I generally don’t write about politics. Most of my writing focuses specifically on theological/cultural/biblical issues. However, the recent tragedy in Charleston and the overall incompetent response by politicians and the public at large have provoked an almost unbearable frustration.
I am constantly underwhelmed and overburdened by those who are elected to lead our country. Maybe I am an idealist but I desperately long for something different. Of course, built into my longing is the assumption that this sort of ideal is even possible.
The last time I voted I did so under the guise of “change”, when now President Obama campaigned his first time around. I didn’t vote for him because he was black –though that was an added bonus. I didn’t vote for him because he was a Democrat (in fact he was the first Democrat I voted for). I didn’t even vote for him because I thought he was more competent than the other guy. I voted for him based on an ideal. That ideal was based on the hope that a president was more than one who politically panders. I hoped we could eliminate backroom shenanigans; cut unnecessary pork; and get rid of special interests for the good of the general public. Naïve, I know.
Looking back I don’t regret my decision. I don’t even think I made the wrong decision. But, given my options, and the information I had at the time, I made the best decision. I wanted to believe that there existed someone out there with the courage and conviction to run our country in the best interest of its citizens instead of what was mandated by a particular party.
Conviction, Competence, and Leadership, is this really too much to ask for?
Intellect and Courage
I long for a president who is both intelligent enough to understand the complexity of our social and economic issues, as well as one who has the courage to act on the conviction that his/her leadership transcends political parties. That he/she would put the needs of the country ahead of everything else. Courage…an ideal that has long been washed away by the constant ebb and flow of political tides.
The recent tragedy in Charleston (as well as Sandy Hook, Colorado movie theater, etc.) serves as a perfect example of politics trumping actual change. It seems like our tragedies are nothing more than a platform for political agendas; a moment for politicians to make good on the promises they made to the special interest groups that got them elected to begin with.
For example, there is no doubt that gun control is something we should talk about. However, the issue is very complex and rarely the root issue for any crime. It is not as simple as saying more or less access to guns will solve the issue of crime. In fact, most gun violence is the result of some more fundamental problem (i.e. mental health, inequality, education, etc). Usually, pulling the trigger on a gun and taking the life of another human being is the product, in a long line of experiences that created the milieu for the incident to occur.
Moreover, instead of addressing the more complicated fundamental issues we are stuck debating issues that will not solve the problem at hand. The political game is by nature deceitful, and we all simply accept it. Well…as long as the deceit is in our favor of course, otherwise we love to point out that fault in others.
Why should politicians speak the truth? We give them NO incentive whatsoever. We are content with a politician who can regurgitate properly their party’s beliefs. And as long as they promise they will enact the social and economic legislation special interest groups ask for they are as good as golden in the eyes of their constituents.
Some concluding thoughts
Most of the time people do not know what is best for them. People will almost always choose what is easiest and most convenient over what is difficult and perhaps more practical/rational. They will make choices based on their personal “feelings” rather than thinking logically/rationally about the group at large.
The longer we simply settle for thoughtless political solutions to complicated problems the more we contribute to the overall problem. Why is it so difficult to find someone who will actually lead this country instead of simply running it. Is there anyone out there who will refuse to be a politician for the sake of integrity?
But, perhaps even more than any of these things I long for the general public to begin thinking and rethinking. We all tout the importance of democracy and even hold it up as the chief virtue of our country’s ideals. However, when we simply vote party lines instead of supporting the best candidate, then we sacrifice the very nature of democracy itself.