2016 is another year that will give each and everyone in the country the opportunity to exercise his civic duty, that of voting. It is a big deal. We will all have the opportunity to elect an individual (a man or possibly a woman) to lead the country for the next four years. For the past century, most people who voted for presidential candidates and members of Congress did so out of partisanship, without any concern as to the consequences of their choices. While other elected officials (both at federal and local levels) can and have impacted our lives, those two groups (the executive and the legislative branches, the judiciary branch is selected, not elected) have the greatest impact; they can and have declared wars to other countries; they can and have taken the US to wars; they can and have sacrificed our sons and daughters. It is ironic that the choices we make to place those individuals in office are usually done on the fly, in a whim or simply because everyone around you voted for that individual or the party s/he belongs to.
Emotions, partisanship, blindly following others or simply following your parents’ or grandparents’ choices should not be a voting strategy. The worst however is to simply vote for someone because s/he belongs to “your party” or simply because you “will never vote for the other party”. What a legacy to leave for your children!
It used to be a time when parents’ decisions were made with the future of their children in mind; it used to be a time when parents spent sleepless nights thinking about how to make certain their children’s future have better outcome than theirs. Today, it seems that none of that matters. Some parents even consider their children a nuisance; so, it’s really, really difficult – if not impossible – to reason with parents who have already given up on their children. For those of you who still love your children, 2016 should not just be another election year. Your action (your vote) carries far-reaching consequences.
Take a look back at the country and reflect over what has happened for the past 50 years. Be it in international relations or domestic issues, the individuals (we elected) in Washington have veered the country in ways which are so disgusting that some Americans have left the US to live elsewhere. Yes, it has already started. Americans (who value lives, who love their children, who love the country) are becoming less interested in politics. This is the greatest irony. To disengage from politics, to abandon the country you love do not solve the nagging problems. Despite the desperate outlook, Washington can be changed, not on its own. We The People can force those changes.
The politicians in Washington know that too; they know that as long as they pin one group against the other (Republican vs Democrat), their tenures in Washington are guaranteed. They are right. The average tenure of Representatives in Washington is approximately 25 years. All they have to do, every so often, is to paint the other side as the party you don’t want. Sadly, you fall for that every time. To be fair, We The People must bear the responsibility of the problems in Washington. We think very little; we reason very little; we care very little about our children’s future; we care very little about the country. As long as we vote for the party our parents, our grandparents voted for, we’re good, right? Or are we? Are we really? Take a look at the country. How good have we done? Look at the country again. Look in the mirror.
If you’re reading this, you have survived all those years and decades in spite of your choices in past elections. As 2016 is rolling in and candidates are lining up to win the highest prize, the Oval Office, you should begin to think not in terms of party but rather in terms of the future for your children, in terms of the future of the country. We know your choices have been for the most part wrong; we know that when we look at the country; we know that when we look at our children; we know that when we look at our society. Osama bin Laden, killed by US Special Forces on May 2, 2011 in Abbottabad, Pakistan (at least that’s what we were told) said in an interview that Americans should suffer the consequences of their choices, referring to the Representatives and Presidents we’ve elected. Even the most notorious enemy, living thousands of miles away, could establish the connection between those we’ve elected and the state of the country. Despite his twisted mind, he had a point; our choices are not without consequences.
Although we cannot remake the past, we can however make 2016 our year of redemption. We can begin to frame rationale for voting. Let’s not gear up to vote for an individual or for a party. Let’s put our children in the center of our decision. Let’s put our country first, as John McCain put it in his 2008 bid for the White House.
To disengage from politics is not a solution; to blame Washington is not a solution; to blame the other party is not a solution. Washington is broken, you broke it. So, fix it.Follow @mducheiney