By Theresa Camoriano
Have you ever said that all politicians are the same? That they are all corrupt, liars, etc? I must confess that I have done it myself, but I am not going to do it anymore.
Why do we say such terrible things about people when we know it is not true? I think we do it because it makes us feel superior – above the whole mess. We stand on our pretend pedestals, looking down on the dirty little people in the trenches. We aren’t going to get our hands dirty in the political muck like them!
This is essentially the same sentiment I think President Obama feels when he goes around the world apologizing for America. Essentially, he is standing on his pedestal looking down on the American people and feeling very superior.
It is not very pretty when he does it, and it certainly is not very pretty when we do it. Anyone who goes around asserting his or her superiority in such a way definitely is not superior!
Not by a long shot. Especially when you consider the harm that is done when we make statements like that.
First, it is a lie. It does not accurately describe the real situation, making it more difficult for us (and anyone who listens to us) to face reality and make sensible decisions based on reality. Clearly, all politicians are not the same. Some really are corrupt and crooked, others are weak or bunglers, and still others are very bright and courageous and are trying very hard to do what is best for their constituents and for the whole country. If we cannot recognize these differences, we have a real problem.
Second, if we express such a low opinion of politicians, we probably are driving good people away from seeking political office, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy that only crooks will become politicians. If we want good people to run for office, then we have to appreciate the sacrifice they are making, recognize them for their efforts, and encourage them to continue. That is not to say that we have to agree with everything they say and do. Quite the contrary. As Rand Paul said when he was running for office, he expected the citizens to keep an eye on him after the election to be sure he kept his campaign promises. That is precisely what we should do, and that includes respectfully criticizing them when we disagree with their actions and thanking them when they do what we like.
Third, it is a cop-out. It allows us to pretend that we have no responsibility for the mess we are in and that there is nothing we can do to improve the situation. Of course, exactly the opposite is true. We do have responsibility for the mess we are in, and there is plenty we can do to make a difference.
We still have the institutions and framework our founders established for us. Yes, they are pretty battered and tarnished, but we can polish them up and get them working properly again. It is not too late for us to take up our responsibility as citizens. We still have freedom of speech and the ability to vote. We have the power to put good people into office and demand that they serve the public as they should.
A good first step would be to visualize the kind of society we want to have. Then we can work to make it happen.
Instead of acting like groupies and voting for the person who makes the most empty promises and is the coolest dude on TV, we need to act like an employer (which we are), do our homework, and figure out which candidate has the right skills and values to do the job well.
If we do not know which policies are most likely to promote the kind of society we want to have, we need to educate ourselves. Study economics. Study history. That is our responsibility as citizens.
If we take our responsibilities seriously and do a good job, we can restore this country to greatness and provide tremendous opportunities for future generations. If we do not take it seriously and do not do a good job, our country and the world may be facing very serious problems in the near future, such as bankruptcy, riots in the streets, and widespread hunger.
As Paul Ryan says, we are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
It is all up to us, and we will get what we deserve.
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