It's an election year. You can smell it in the air - kind of sulfury. I've tried over recent years to become more politically aware and active. I read the news and watch the speeches and debates. This year I've made my decision on who I'll vote for in the Presidential election, and am even doing some volunteer work at the local campaign office. I'm not going to say who my candidate is because I don't want anyone to feel like this is a campaign add. But, in all of my searching, there are a few points that I've come to believe in that I would like to share.
1 - It's a mistake to become absolutely committed to one political party. Pick a candidate, yes. But don't decide strictly on the basis of party. I've seen the best examples of what not to do working here at the COB. These old men of mine are Republican to the point of no return, and they can't be trusted. They will always, always go with a Republican. It doesn't matter what the issue is, which politicians are involved, what they stand for, what their arguments are, the Republican is always right and the Democrat is always wrong. Period. As if anything is ever that black and white. I'm very sure that if the devil himself were to run for office as a Republican, these guys would vote for him, and then blame the Democrats for giving Satan a bad wrap. And I don't doubt that there are Democrats who feel the same way about their party. It's foolishness. Forget the party and look at the candidates. Think, with as little bias as possible, about what each person represents, and then make an informed decision based on the person, not the party.
2- There is good and bad on both sides. No one party holds the keys to all wisdom, knowledge and sound judgement. No one party is filled only with screw-ups. It all exists in both, and, I'm willing to bet, in equal measure. At the same time...
3- I really think that, for the most part, the politicians in all parties have good intentions. I believe that they are sincere in their desire to do something good for their country. Of course there are some who are selfish, greedy, and corrupt. But not everyone. Some are honestly doing what they think is best for those who elected them to office. The trouble is that they all have different ideas of what is best. But isn't that where it gets interesting? Our Founding Fathers when they wrote the Declaration of Independence and then the Constitution had very different ideas on what their new government should be. They were forced to work together toward the best solution. They had to compromise. The beauty of having so many different voices is that it opens up a wider opportunity to find the best answer. Of course, this only works when...
4- Our elected officials need to put party loyalty second to building the best government for the people. Way too many good ideas are snuffed out because the Democrats won't listen to a Republican, and vise versa. I wish they would learn to play nicely. It's ok to say, "You know, Senator R-Illinois has a good idea. He's come up with something better than I have. Let's go with that." It is the only way that our government as a whole is going to get us anywhere.
5- We have to stop seeing each other as the enemy. I've kind of touched on this already. The huge division between parties has got to close up and heal, in the government and in our own hearts and minds. I'm sick to death of hearing about red states and blue states. Why can't we be the United States? Maybe we should give that a try. The Lord has said, "If ye are not one, ye are not mine.", D&C 28: 37, and, "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me...", 3 Nephi 11:29. We don't do ourselves or anyone else any good by holding on to so much animosity.
So that's what I'm looking for. Someone who will bridge the gaps, who will listen to his opposition with a willingness to respect their views and to work with their ideas. Someone who can inspire us to believe in our country and in ourselves. I suppose that's idealistic, and maybe unrealistic, but it's my hope to find someone who comes close.
One more point. I know not everyone is interested in politics. Heck, I wasn't interested until very recently, and even now don't pay it half of the attention that my friends and coworkers do. Still, I really believe that it's important to do something. Too many people have worked, sacrificed and died to establish and preserve this nation. Too many women did the same in their fight for the right to vote. We can't just take that for granted. At the end of HBOs series on John Adams, the narration gives this quote: "Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make good use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in heaven that ever I took half the pains to preserve it."
I really don't want to have to explain myself to John Adams some day. I'm pretty sure he would kill me in a war of words.