Thankfully last Monday I was at a meeting and was not subjected to the presidential debate on television. I did get to see the highlights (or maybe lowlights) of the debate for days following it as the pundits went over ever insult and accusation in minute, excruciating detail. As I watched the debate I had the same thought I have had all election season. Are these candidates really the best we can do?
The answer, sadly enough, is I am not sure, but these are the only two choices at this time. Please understand that if either one of these candidates are the one you chose and backed, good for you. Just because I disapprove of the candidates does not mean they are terrible choices. We live in a democracy and the winner is the one who can draw the majority of the support from those who exercise their right to vote.
However, as I watched the news clips of the debate and as I watch the news coming out of each of the campaigns it is apparent that both candidates are deeply flawed. I know, probably all of our presidential candidates over the years have been deeply flawed individuals, but I have never noticed it to the extent I am noticing it this year. Maybe I am older and more cynical but I think more likely something has happened in our society and our political system to surface candidates willing to say or do anything to get elected.
What has happened to us? I wish I had the answer, then we might be able to work toward fixing the problem. I am sure there is someone out there who does have a better handle on the situation and more of an answer than I do, we need to find that person. This election magnifies the need for a change in the mindset of all of us as United States citizens.
Am I saying there are no good, normal people involved in government. Absolutely not, I have the opportunity and privilege to interact with many elected officials at all levels and there are many, many good people who are there for the right reason and try to do the right thing. However, I am worried that we are making it more difficult for those who are civically minded to become involved.
I do think the tide can be changed but it is going to take an effort from all of us to do it. We do still live in a democracy and I do believe that a majority of the people can affect change. Here is the catch, we actually have to get involved and work to make those changes. We can’t sit back and watch the news and lament about how bad things are, real change takes hard work. We have to roll up our sleeves and dig in.
That is where the problem is. Too many of us (myself included) are too busy in keeping up with our everyday lives to add another thing to the list. We work hard only to come home to evenings of even more activities. In short, most of us suffer from self-induced exhaustion. We do not have time to be involved with government at any level.
I completely understand, I feel the same way myself. It seems easy to ignore what is going on in our government. It is easy to forget until it effects your everyday life and then we wake up. Then we do what we are doing now and wonder out loud how we got to this place. I don’t know about you but this is a place I don’t want to be.
Does this mean that all is lost and we are in a hopeless situation? The answer is a resounding no. We still live in the greatest nation on earth with more freedoms and opportunities than anywhere else in the world. Maintaining those freedoms and opportunities takes work and they cannot be neglected, part of the cost of living in a democracy is being involved at some level.
What do we do for the rest of this election cycle? Take the time to watch the debates, learn more about the candidates and vote for the one that best matches your viewpoints. I know this may be painful and we must also be thinking about the next election cycle and make sure that we surface and support the best candidates. We cannot sit idly by and let it play out on its own.
It is time for all of us to take ownership of our government and exercise the right we have been given to have a say in the direction we are going. I believe that we do have the best form of governance ever created and that we will right the ship. I also believe it is high time that each of us roll our sleeves up and get involved. I know it won’t be easy but it is the right thing to do.