I stay out of the political arena primarily because I have a deep rooted distrust in the system and those who hold power of any kind. I rarely discuss these things except with people I know, love and trust. We are flawed human beings just trying to do our best. In politics I look on with reservation as one administration after another shows ambivalence, uses evasive techniques in their language when speaking about issues and thumbs their noses at the grievances expressed and acutely suffered by the people who elected them into office.
Politics gives me heartburn, high blood pressure, makes my eyes water, my throat dry, causes involuntary twitches, insomnia and not because of what politicians say or do (because in my very limited political purview my reality sees them as lying, cheating, predictable narcissists) but it is the words and sometimes the actions of the people who cause my unease.
For months now I have watched the incessant bickering between friends and family members who subscribe to two different schools of thought – red and blue. No I’m not referring to Crips and Bloods. This is not a veiled reference to all of you die-hard (and exasperatingly annoying) BYU versus Utah fans. I am of course referring to the ongoing diatribe on both sides of the political arena – the Republicans versus the Democrats.
When I was younger the debates between the two major political parties here in the United States was mere blabbering babble between people whom in my youthful mind made as much sense to me as wearing a ski parka to a surf party in Waikiki. But today’s political climate, coupled with the accessibility (some would say barrage) of information have made this election season unavoidable and so much more demanding, relevant, important and altogether tiring than ever before.
Everywhere you turn there seems to be some reference, some sound byte that sparks heated debates; not between candidates (although there is enough of that going around) but more importantly amongst friends and family. Some of the exchanges have resulted in all out confrontations that lead to hurt feelings where in some instances the damage is irreparable and for what?
Yes we should be aware of the issues. Yes it is imperative that we vote. Yes we will regret if we don’t voice our opinions but at what cost? Is our insistence on advancing and promoting an agenda blinding us to the reality that one administration can hardly expect to repair the damage done by a dozen? Yes our country is in dire need of answers; we are in a disastrous situation. But does it mean that the only real solution to all of the problems that our nation faces right now is to discredit, demean and degrade opposing views and sentiments? Is the best course of action discord, conflict and contention?
I’m not promoting the idea that we should all sit back and “let the chips fall where they may” either. Dale Carnegie reminded us that, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” So to get the result that most closely aligns with your belief system you have to be active.
But being active does not mean being despotic in your approach or malicious in your speech. It does not mean being so utterly closed off from considering an opposing view that you can’t admire the ingenuity and a desire to see a problem from every angle and be united in devising a resolution that is good for the people, not just your political alignment.
You might ask, “What happens when we decide to vote for the person who is actually best for our country and not just the one whom our party wants to lead our country?” Well that is the dilemma isn’t it? As citizens of this great nation you have the power to exercise your right to vote which also means that you have an obligation as a citizen to research, ponder maybe even pray for an answer.
“But what if in time I realize that I voted for the wrong guy?” you might ask. Unfortunately it’s not like buying a pair of boots at Nordstroms that you can return when you’re dissatisfied but there will be ‘buyer’s remorse’ regardless of the outcome.
When asked about the decision to pursue the war on terror against Sadaam Hussein and his cronies Condolezza Rice replied with that tried and tested wisdom, “What you know today can affect what you know and do tomorrow but what you know today cannot affect what you did yesterday.”
Politics is a risky business for everyone it touches. Whatever or whomever you decide to vote for is entirely up to you but you should never be coerced and you cannot consult a crystal ball for the future of this country and ultimately your own future as a citizen. What you can do as part of your ‘action plan’ is to do your homework.
I never answer the question, “Who are you going to vote for?” because it does the one thing that I have tried my best in recent years to avoid – I call it my “spoiler alert”. I do not want to taint the undecided with my opinion.
What is your opinion?