Saturday, November 19, 2005

Have We Lost Our Way?

The former President says that America is on the wrong path. Here are my thoughts.

It is hard to not be discouraged when we see the state of government in 2005. It appears that we have descended into a Kakistocracy in which only the venal and selfish rule. The steady parade of mug shots and bald faced liars is damned disheartening. Sound bites and talking points rule the day.

It is vital that we focus on those politicians who can see a course that will guide America back to what it once was. There are still politicians who care about governance on both sides of the aisle. They need our support. We must be the driving force to take America back from extremists of all stripes.

Less than a generation ago America was a shining star on this planet, a place where any common woman or man could make their fortune. America stood steadfast as a respecter of human rights and freedoms, not only within its borders but around the world. Today we take our shoes off at the airport, talk about building fences and suspend habeus corpus for people who don’t look like we do.

Less than a generation ago we shone as a bastion of religious tolerance, of scientific innovation and of economic promise. Now we have slid backwards to a society where politics uses our differences to divide us both to keep us submissive and to trade on our fears for our votes. We are told to ignore those things which we know to be right and proper and to go along with those who lead us down an improper path for their own exaltation and reward.

Less than a generation ago political campaigns sold us hope and promise and adventure. We were to ask what we could do for our country, to be a part of the Great Society. Now we are fed a steady diet of fear. We are told to be afraid of those who are different from us. We are told that we are always in danger and only by meekly submitting can we live to see another day. If we constantly live in the ominous shadow of the dread unknown are we truly living a worthwhile life?

We are just now starting to hear voices that shout, “The Emperor has no clothes.” Listen to those voices and join the chorus and then do your best to be a part of the solution. Write to your Congressman and Representative. Send an e-mail to your Assemblyman or Senator to tell them when they’ve done a good job. When you see your Alder or Mayor at the market let them see that you care. Don’t let them pander to the extremes of Left or Right. Make sure that they understand that you care more about healing rifts than about driving wedges.

Governance is not a video game. There are no Final Battles against the Ultimate Enemy. Statesmanship is about finding the best course for the greatest good. It is about small steps on a steady path. We must take our government back from the lobbyists and big-money interests that make it impossible for politicians to both do the right thing and get re-elected. Too often political races come down to the interests of the few to the detriment of the many. We need to be the ones to fix that.

Apathy will kill Democracy most efficiently. Become a partner in your government. Vote, read, write. Show government that you want better, if not for yourself then for your children and grandchildren. America has wandered in the dark before and come back to see the light of truth shine on its face. It will happen again but only if we care enough to make it happen. There are men and women in office who want to be leaders for more than venal reasons. Seek them out and support them. Do your best to get them help. Don’t be content to complain. Be the difference.

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