Two days from now “We the People” will rouse from our comfortable, emotion laden thrones and deign to exercise our constitutional duty as voters once more. We will turn our attention momentarily from “Dancing with the stars”, “The walking dead”, “Game of thrones”, “The real housewives of” wherever or our favorite super hero show to exercise our vast and piercing knowledge of people and politics as we select the next president and vice president of these United States. We will also pick senators, representatives, judges, initiatives and amendments at the federal, state and local levels. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t really anything to shout about I mean it’s been going on for over 200 years. We’re going to do it once more Tuesday with all of the affiliated hoopla and folderol that we have come to expect in the soap opera that is our political process. We will shuffle on down to our local voting booth and happily go about doing our civic duty followed by a proud, smiling selfie of us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even Pinterest showing the world our cute little “I Voted” sticker so everyone will know that we are a “good American”. We will pat ourselves on the back, praise our friends (those who agree with us) for doing all they could to preserve this great nation and we will berate our opponents (those who disagree with us) for doing their damnedest to destroy the American dream. We will be disgusted because this or that person we know didn’t support that candidate who proposed the bill or the initiative we believe in. We will be angry because our supposed friend voted for that candidate who not only “couldn’t win” but who’s “not even a good candidate”. We will be angry and petulant through the process and we will spew our dissatisfaction and derision over everything we come in contact with for the next many days, weeks, months or even years. In some cases we may even sacrifice a few friends and/or family members on the altar of politics. After all isn’t that what our party overlords would want us to do? Isn’t that what being a “good American” is all about?
I don’t intend to minimize the importance of the decisions we must make or the epic struggle we are engaged in. I want us to consider, however, what the actual source of that struggle is. We are struggling mightily with our brothers and our sisters. We are daily in pitched battles with our friends and neighbors. We have taken this fight to the streets where we literally have begun to engage in the murder and assault of our own countrymen. Through it all we continually permit ourselves to be diverted from the source of our anger and disappointment. We have lost sight of our obligation as “We the people”. We are screaming in the streets and tearing our own neighborhoods and lives apart to make people understand that we matter and we won’t take even a moment to stop and remember that “We” are the source of all authority in this republic. We exceed 300 million souls gathered together in “a more perfect union”. We are the finders of fact, the determiners of direction and the formers of ideology. We are the font of all strength in this union of states and we no longer recognize our own role as leaders. We wait and hope instead for a cutout from a subset of our created party structures to come along and tell us what we must do, how we must do it and most importantly who we must despise. We do this, I submit to you, because we have become too self-absorbed and too busy with our lives to understand, hold and exercise the power that is our birthright as Americans.
My brothers and sisters, my fellow Floridians and my fellow Americans we are divided because we permit the democrats, republicans, libertarians and independents to divide us. We permit the parties of our discontent and disillusionment to rule our lives. We have given power to the city council to determine where our homes can be and where our churches or businesses may exist. We let others tell us how to run our business, what we can drive, how we are permitted to raise our children, how we educate, what we can eat, what we can put in our bodies and the list goes on and on ad nauseam. We speak often of freedom but we have surrendered that and become cogs in the wheel of our chosen political apparatus. We surrendered true freedom because we cannot stomach the work and effort that goes along with personal responsibility. It’s much easier to sit back and watch “Game of thrones” while someone else makes determinations on what is good, right and moral for our lives. In that way we get to complain endlessly about the result, pontificate about the injustice of it all and privately discuss our anger and disgust for those other people at work, school and church who don’t believe the way we do. We do all of this while retaining our “free time” at the expense of our “freedom”. We can go to the zoo with our kids, concerts with our friends and the local pub with our mates all we want but until we stand up, take responsibility for our own lives and tell the parties to sit down and shut up we will remain indentured servants of the political elite and we will forever be doomed to a life of discontentment, anger and disillusionment.
I understand that you and I don’t always share the same view of a situation. We disagree on important things like marriage, the sanctity of life, criminal justice, equality, fairness, responsibility, jobs, opportunity, etc. We have substantive beliefs that are important to us and that is fantastic. The scary truth is that the founders created a system that permits those differences to coexist and we permitted the political elite to take it from us and force us into a box. We lay aside our deeply held beliefs every election and permit the folks in D.C., our state capitols and our municipalities to tell us what is important, rile us up and tell us to hate one another then they turn us loose and let us tear each other apart until election day. Once that task is completed they retreat to their comfortable lives where they live in high walled, gated communities, benefit from fully paid health care, send their kids to high performing private schools and drive or are chauffeured about all paid for with our tax dollars. They live these high-powered, sparkling little lives while we struggle to fill our government approved 401k or IRA or perhaps even struggle just to make it from one paycheck to the next. They do this while they lecture us on the evil of keeping what we work for. They have the temerity to lecture us on how they know what is best for our children. These people of influence who live off our largess have the unmitigated gall to demand that we trust them and follow them while they bankrupt our nation fiscally, socially and spiritually. I’m here to remind you that it isn’t the disparity between the white man and people of color or the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” that is our problem. Our problem ladies and gentlemen is Washington D.C., Pensacola, (add state capitol here), city hall, town council, zoning board, board of education and ultimately our own laziness. There it is! That’s the pay-off isn’t it?
In truth we are where we are because we think the height of civic responsibility is posting a rant on Facebook about that guy who doesn’t agree with us politically. We think that being a good citizen entails posting the address of some politician on the internet so that a mob of angry protesters can yell at their children when they shamelessly exit the home. Ultimately we want the goodies without the work. We want to have all the good things and we want the world to stop being a cold, hard place and be fair to everyone we like while simultaneously sticking it to everyone we don’t like. The problem with that equation is that it comes at a price that is higher than we should be willing to pay. We lose our independence and we lose our ability to self-determine. Use that social media platform you love so much to get your friends to vote you into office or if you’re not the politician use it to get your friend voted into office. Fix the problems in your neighborhood and your school district by getting rid of the political animals who are taking charge of our lives. Tell government to stay out of your bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, family room and your private property and mean it. When I say “mean it” that’s important. When someone speaks ill of your lifestyle don’t ask the government to start regulating your life by telling us as individuals what is and what isn’t allowed. If you are part of the group that asks government to force your life on others then you are the problem.
The final note is that we must be willing to take the good with the bad and seize the reins of our own destiny. That means when it fails it’s your fault and not some invisible conspiracy of “other people” who don’t like you. When it succeeds, however, that’s also your fault. See how that works. I’m telling you flat-out right now that we are never going to 100% agree with one another E-V-E-R PERIOD. That’s not a bad thing folks. We are free to be passionate and have our own views. We are free to disagree with our friends, neighbors and relations. We are a free people.
Our enemies are rooting against us but me…
I BELIEVE IN THE AMERICAN DREAM!
I BELIEVE IN THE AMERICAN SPIRIT!
I TRULY BELIEVE IN THE IMAGE OF THIS NATION AS A SHINING CITY ON THE HILL!
I BELIEVE IN FREEDOM!
So go vote on Tuesday. Just don’t lose your soul or your humanity in the process. When it’s all said and done and the elitists go away to their safe little castles for another year we still have to find a way to live together in this place. How about we start reminding them who’s in charge around here? It’s a thought.