Will we be better than our political leaders this year?
For starters, will we get out and vote? It is one of our most important civic duties and responsibilities. Not to sound like a pedantic parent, but people risked their lives long ago so that we could become One Nation Under God. If we don’t vote, are we sending a message to our politicians that we are indifferent until something doesn’t go our way?
How can we possibly complain about the people in Albany or Washington in our representative democracy if we didn’t bother to interrupt our busy schedule to elect people who will make decisions for us?
This election isn’t about any one person, and it shouldn’t be. This isn’t a referendum on anyone other than us.
We have to make informed choices, but, even that is not enough. This year, it seems especially important to vote for the strong, courageous and thoughtful individual.
At this point, we have come down to two parties. It’s the Democrats, who say “no” to everything, and the Republicans, who, in unison, say “yes.” Our politicians shouldn’t be on two diametrically opposed teams — this country is filled with people from every team and walk of life.
It’s stunning how unified both parties are. That doesn’t seem especially valuable to the country. After all, shouldn’t Democrats know a good idea when they see it, and shouldn’t Republicans stop something they don’t think will work?
We are a country of rugged individuals. Our system of national and state governments started when people wanted more freedom from taxes, religious persecution and class systems with relatively limited mobility.
How much freedom are we exercising if we vote “all blue” or “all red,” without knowing the candidates, their positions or their ability to differentiate themselves from their party by making their own choices?
The parties have become caricatures of themselves. They are no longer a collection of ideas coming together, compromising and protecting a wide range of people: They seem to exist for their own sakes and for a specific subset of their party.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if a Democrat promised to support some Republican platforms or ideas? Wouldn’t it be refreshing for a Republican to propose something that ran contrary to their hierarchy?
Where are the men and women with big ideas, who can irritate their own party while gaining reluctant appreciation from the other side of the aisle? Since when did everyone in Washington feel like they had to be the Montagues and the Capulets in “Romeo and Juliet”?
Were Shakespeare alive today, I suspect he would have had a field day with the bickering, finger-pointing and bipolar world of politics.
If we vote along party lines, does it really matter what name is attached to the ticket? If we do, are we sending a message that we’d like our representatives to do the same thing?
Maybe, especially for this election, we should scrap the entire notion of party affiliation. After all, we’re better than a mob. Some time between now and the election, we all should get to know the candidates. If we have a chance to speak with them, we should ask them if they’re going to fall in line with other members of their party or if they’re going to think for themselves. We shouldn’t have to elect a party with each choice at the ballot. Instead, we should elect an individual who thinks for him or herself the way we do.
We should show our politicians how it’s done, by making informed choices and then asking them to do the same.