Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Democracy Blooms

Democracy Blooms I know it is hard to believe but Democracy is once again in bloom. Political signs advertising the candidates we will be voting for and even the issues we will consider have sprung from the ground like spring flowers. I would say that Democracy is in full bloom, but as a recent story in the Daily Citizen explained, many races were decided even before the first vote was cast due to lack of challengers. But even a less than perfect Democracy is better than the alternative. We as Americans have been so richly blessed with freedom; unfortunately, though, many take our blessings for granted. Given that so many have given the ultimate sacrifice that gave us the freedom to be governed in a free society, it is incumbent upon all of us to continue encouraging all to participate in the democratic process. What is at stake? Why should we care? It is tragic to me that more than a few cannot answer these serious questions. Consider just the last 12 years when our country has been led by both parties. Were we tremendously better off during the years under President Bush’s leadership? Has President Obama improved our nation or made it worse? The extremists who live on the left and right fringe of the political spectrum will vehemently argue that the lives of most Americans were better off when their President was in office or their party controlled Congress. What do you think? Have you studied the issues? Do you listen to and read divergent opinions trying to understand the different dimensions of the serious issues facing our country? I can candidly confess that for many of my years that I did not look at issues from all sides. I tended to believe the party and /or the leaders of the party that I most closely aligned with. Not anymore … I now work hard to understand issues from many angles. I try to listen to people that I know I would disagree with on many issues. And it is my humble opinion that until more of us does the same; we will continue to get what we are currently getting. It doesn’t take years of research or a multitude of degrees to realize that we as a country, and as a people, have real serious issues facing us. Entitlement programs that are necessary and vital to so many but as currently designed are unsustainable. We have an education system that fails more and more children year after year. And for the first time in decades, it is predicted that our younger generations will not enjoy a standard of living that equals that of their parents. All the courses in history and political science that I took in college certainly taught me that this isn’t the first time in history that we have been divided politically. Throughout our rocky existence, there have been times worse than today’s but thankfully better times as well. But what worries me about the times we live in today is not the bickering but the lacking of capacity for true debate. We seem to be electing not our best and brightest, but in many cases the better of two so-so candidates. And the service above self mantra that truly makes the kind of servant leader so desperately needed is becoming harder and harder to find. At the federal level, I would almost argue that any incumbent who has been in office longer than 4 years should be changed. When the two parties and two of the three branches of government have been so dysfunctional in managing our fiscal affairs as the last six congresses have - it is time for systemic change. And at the state level, are we any better? Since the current majority party took control, we are less educated, have degrading infrastructure that needs desperate attention, and continue to lag most states in growing per capita income of our citizens. When Indiana and New Jersey seemed to be making stronger strides in becoming innovative in providing local government that is responsive, efficient, and effective – we could learn a thing or two. America is an amazing place! A destination billions dream of visiting and would give their all to live here. But we as Americans – everyday citizens – are checking out of the very process that makes us so special. Congratulations and thank you to all who have signed your name on the dotted line and offered yourselves up for service. We the citizens of Whitfield County, Georgia, and the United States salute you. It is now our responsibility to do our part in learning about you and the issues you strive to improve. Between now and the first Tuesday in November, we need to exercise true citizenship as we become educated about the candidates and the issues, and cast our votes accordingly. Let us not dishonor the sacrifices given in fighting for government from the people, by the people, and for the people…

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