In the United States we are gearing up for another election. Once again it is time for the two-party system to place their candidates on show to fight it out amongst one another before engaging in a competition for what they perceive as the ultimate prize – the presidency of the United States. Don’t be concerned if you’re not familiar with the process or various candidates on display because no matter who or which party wins, you can expect the same old song to be played by a different musician or should that be the same old show by a different magician.
We begin the election process with a certain optimism and enthusiasm believing in someone who will do things differently or bring about social cohesion and an integrity to their office and the country only to find ourselves disappointed again and again. And if by some miracle there was such an individual of conscience, courage, conviction and integrity to bring back a sense of justice and cohesion to the nation as president or other elected official, you can believe that they wouldn’t last long in that job. You can’t understand why there is so much pessimism on my part? Well, with history as a teacher; the lack of engagement by individuals in the country; prevalent corruption at nearly every level of government; and the ever strengthening evolution of special interest groups and institutions, believe me that it’s not that difficult to understand.
It has been some time since the citizens of the United States have been made to feel that they truly matter or have felt collectively and socially engaged about what is taking place both at home and abroad. Please understand that this is not another rant about the government or politicians because it isn’t. We as citizens must assume our fair share of responsibility with regard to what has been taking place over the past several decades. We buy into the “dog and pony show” hook line and sinker instead of educating ourselves on the significant issues that affects us and what’s in our best interests not just as individuals but as a society or nation. That in-turn allows the best entertainer to come along and promise much but deliver very little where it really matters which in-turn results in disappointment, apathy, flawed officials, government and policies that seem to be self serving or highly ineffectual.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the political spectrum, allowing yourself to be dazzled by empty or superficial promises and sweet words to your ears will always result in disappointment or worse! Why does this perpetual and destructive cycle continue? I believe that we allow our emotions to be tapped at the expense of our logical reasoning capabilities. So the important factor then becomes whether or not the candidate embodies certain identifiable characteristics that we can relate to (race, gender, religion, etc.) or how our buttons are pushed on certain hot topic issues such as immigration, abortion, gun control, and so on. Regardless of which party you identify with, you just need to hear those right words spoken with just the right tone at the right time to be sold. And the politicians, sensing the blood in the water like a great white shark, will take full advantage.
The election process is one that hinges on individual self-absorption instead of one contingent on what is best for the nation collectively whether that benefits our personal desires and circumstances or not. When was the last time you observed an elected official acting contrary to his/her own personal interests or that of their constituents to do what is right and just for all concerned? I believe you would have a difficult time answering that one because typically we act in a way that will consistently benefit our own ideal interests. This is true no matter what the issue is, who you are or what country you live in. So then how can we not expect to experience the same old disappoint as well as the same old conflicts over and over again? I believe we can accomplish this by setting aside our selfish desires and taking a more altruistic stance.
Currently in the US one of the hot button issues is gun control. After several mass shootings the interest is in controlling the ease in which one can purchase a weapon. At least that is the stance taken on the liberal left while the conservative right resists further controls perhaps spurred on by the National Riffle Association (NRA). Instead of taking an objective look at the incidents, the knee jerk reaction is to enact legislation that will quickly satisfy emotional needs for a solution and perhaps gain some political capital as well in the process. Very few that I have observed, in my opinion, have cared about investigating the actual root cause – “why are there so many emotionally and mentally disturbed individuals in this country?” For those that are saddled with deep emotional and mental issues and want to kill a large number of people, I believe that they will find a way regardless of whether or not they can obtain a legal fire arm. To be fair guns are a significantly easy way to carry out mass destruction. Enacting legislation to make it more difficult to obtain them may reduce the violence that has occurred but where there is a will there is a way regardless of whether you have legal access to a gun or not. I am of the opinion that our current society is producing these types of individuals be it due to the environment, social/government actions (or inaction) or some other factors. I am not advocating for one side or the other in this debate but merely pointing out that we tend to take the emotionally easy way out in finding a solution instead of diligently searching for a root cause. This in turn results in a superficial quick-fix to satisfy the masses and which then perpetuates the same old reactions to the problems that we face.
Another challenging issue is of course illegal immigration. No matter where you stand on this issue you can bet that there is a politician or official waiting to pounce to garner attention and votes by suggesting a course of action that will satisfy their core-base of supporters or to acquire new followers even it is the wrong action to take. Obviously this is a very complex and emotional issue but again the knee-jerk reaction is to do what will serve selfish personal interests instead of what will be legally and morally in the best interests of the nation as a whole balancing that with the individual needs of those affected. There are other issues that ignite very emotional responses such as funding Planned Parenthood Clinics; abuse of power by local and government agencies; same-sex marriage; personal civil liberties; mounting personal debt and the shrinking middle class not to mention the international issues concerning ISIS, Syria, Iran, Russia, ad nauseam. Once again you can rely on the fact that the course of action taken (or inaction) will be based on what’s in the best political/personal interests of those making the decisions spurred on by the desires or wishes of their constituency rather than what is the right and just course of action to take with the best interests of “all” in mind.
Now the intention of this post is not to take sides on an issue one way or another but to point out that the apathy, corruption, and unethical practices will continue in government and our society as a whole because we allow it to. We either influence OUR representatives, political party, candidates etc. by our emotional reactions, attachments and relationships into initiating some ill-action or allow the aforementioned to do that which will be personally and politically beneficial for them by our lack of attention or engagement. Indeed we either want personal satisfaction regardless of best interests or we simply don’t care because it has no bearing on our personal lives.
As alluded to in past posts, what is needed is thoughtful, unbiased engagement on our part. We have to want and desire that which will benefit us all and not what will personally satisfy our own needs and interests. Sometimes our interests and needs will not conflict with what we desire or with what must be done. When there is a conflict, we have to implore wisdom and realise that selfishness and a lack of understanding on our part will continue to result in a degradation of our society and our lives to a point of no return. That is if we haven’t gotten to that point already. Effective change begins with each one of us reflecting honestly upon ourselves. We need to place our desires and expectations in proper perspective and ensure that they are just and compatible with the needs of the society in which we live. We then need to charge those elective officials with carrying out that which is in the best interests of the nation as a whole and vigilantly hold them accountable. Only then can we expect a new type of politician to emerge. One that is actually focused on the significant issues at hand without prejudice and that knows he/she is serving a wise and informed constituency that respects honesty, integrity and expects results from their civil servants and not the same old song.