Democracy As Good As She Imagined It

Obama at Tucson Victim's MemorialPresident Obama’s speech Wednesday evening for the Tucson shooting victim’s memorial was quite moving and communicated many messages.  His most striking statement was at the end of his speech.  He talked about 9-year old Christina Green’s recent interest in politics, her election to the student council, her excitement of meeting U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford that day, and her realization this government holds together a great nation.  Obama finished with, “I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”

My thoughts were:

What an amazing line.  What amazing sentiment.  In one line, Obama just captured so much of what I said and felt in recent years.  Oh, but I guess it’s simply too idealistic.  Our congress, in their “adult” conversations, will just write it off as something said for some memorial speech meant to comfort people at that time.  They’ll say it’s not relevant to real life.  Any members trying to live up to this ideal will simply be bowled over by all the others who say nice guys finish last.

Christina Green

Christina Green

Later on, I wondered how we could actually uphold this enlightened statement.  Generally, politicians using blanket prefixes & taglines like, “job-killing”, “hurts small business”, and “defense of marriage” are actually trying to train people on the thinking of their party leadership or of their biggest financial supporters.  Politicians supporting the way they believe their constituents would actually vote, given the bill at hand, don’t need to peddle their goods at all.  They only have to explain how they’ll vote.  It’s also easy for them to publish complete bills up for vote on their websites with their key highlights.

Many people vote for politicians based on their views on just one or two issues they feel strongly about with no regard for the other 98% of issues affecting their lives.  We need to realize the other 98% of issues might affect our lives far more than the 1-2 issues we’re basing our votes on.  We also must realize by voting on taglines like “job-killing tax hikes”, as though all tax-hikes kill jobs, we might actually be voting against our own interests.

For example, taxes raise money for government.  Government puts money to work (taxes don’t vanish).  It hires people to build roads, repair bridges, buy materials for these projects made by other working people, and taxes make our nation more competitive through education.  If people, rich & poor, don’t have access to quality education, every trip to the local store will be degraded by poorly constructed roads, failing utilities, increasingly faulty products (unless they’re foreign), check-out people unable to provide correct change, and sales people without enough education to understand the products in their store.  Clearly, taxes are not job killers.

So, how do we uphold the great statement finishing Obama’s speech?  We vote out politicians who rely on simplistic taglines and who vote party line instead of voting the wishes of their actual constituents.  Look around you and vote for what is best for your community, not just yourself.  If something benefits your community, it’s most likely to benefit you, too.  Issues that benefit you, but not your community, degrade your community and ultimately degrade your life, too.

We will be most successful if we remember our founding father’s intense support for separation of church and state.  None of us can force our communities into our religious beliefs, nor will we benefit by forcing laws on them based on our religious and spiritual beliefs.  We must let personal spiritual beliefs guide our personal lives.  You can’t live by the beliefs of others any more than they can live by yours.  Live and let live.  We must build government in which we all can live.

In short, vote for politicians that listen to their constituents, not party leadership.  A vote for a politician should be a vote for their community, not their party leaders.  Don’t elect politicians to have food fights in front of us; elect politicians to learn what their constituents wants, and then do the hard work with other politicians to provide the best solution for our nation, not just their party leaders and biggest financial donors.  Do this for a better world for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren just like Christina Green.


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Filed under American Government & Institutions (state & federal), Political Parties & Partisan Politics

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