Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Reflection Of You & Me

Tuesday's election in US wrapped up what has become ever increasingly ugly campaign seasons.  Living overseas I was fortunate enough to miss all of the phone calls (the Vonage line had been temporarily disconnected for this very reason), campaign ads, unsolicited mailings and even doorstep visits by campaign workers eager to see their candidate get elected. I heard about it though. And with the fierce stalemate that has been the status quo in DC recently, combined with millions of dollars spent on a mid-term election, I can only imagine how truly painful it must have been regardless of which side of the aisle or color you stand behind. And now the people have spoken by way of their votes and that is really what living in a democratic society is all about. Right????

This recent election has the Republican Party sweeping the House and the Senate as well as many governorships. While the country is clearly divided on which strategy lays the best path for the future of our country, the voters have spoken. (One could argue that low voter turnout in some areas accounts for the final results but my challenge to them would be that those people who felt the strongest about the issues came out and cast their vote). And judging by my Facebook page these past few days it would appear that I have slightly more friends who are dismayed by the outcome of the elections than those who are rejoicing but the margin is quite close. (I have to admit that over the past few months I have enjoyed the varied and polar opposite opinion pieces that my friends have been posting. While I don't always agree with what they post, their varying opinions have certainly made me think about my own stances). As with any election there are winners and losers, people who are happy with the outcomes and those who are distraught.

A democratic government is one of the people by the people. So it stands to reason that in a country as clearly diverse and divided as our own, certain parts of the country are more apt to elect more conservative (or liberal) politicians than others. The state of Kentucky and their long term, re-elected Senator Mitch McConnell, is a prime example. Many people inside the Beltway despise the man, his politics and his practices but obviously the people of Kentucky find something they like about him because they repeatedly re-elect him. Historically we have tendencies to elect people who "look" like ourselves so who are the people of West Coast to say otherwise?  The same could be said about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (who was not up for re-election this year). It is seriously doubtful that Texas voters would elect her as their representative yet those in Massachusetts like her just fine. Isn't that what a democracy is all about?

I'm not saying that everything is all fine and dandy with our electoral process or politics in general, but what we have today is the product of what we the people have allowed to happen. I whole heartedly thing that ever single American who is eligible to vote should do so in each and every election. By not voting you are saying that the issues just don't matter to you. People should also cast educated votes which, amidst all of the propaganda and political fighting can be quite difficult at times. However, voting for the candidate solely because they attended your neighborhood cookout (as one Washington D.C. did) is in my opinion, not an educated decision. (I saw this type of voting happening regularly when I worked for the City of Norfolk, VA. There local officials would attend and host community events to garner votes then all but disappear after they were elected until the next campaign season came around when the voters would once again re-elect them. And so the cycle continued).

And because we are a democracy, if we don't like what we see happening in our political system, each and every one of us needs to do our part to change it. We can sit back and complain about our discontent with the system and the people we elected or we can become actively involved in it. So many people have been expressing their disgust with everyone in Washington but some politicians are getting re-elected meaning that not everyone feels that way. Perhaps those who feel like they are on the "winning" side in this election can sit back and watch their candidates go to work. But for anyone who is unhappy to with these election results, they need to get to work immediately. So if you don't like it, do something about it. Not in four years, two years or even one year. The time is now. Because this is a democracy and despite its ugliness and contention at time, I still believe the process works. The majority of the people have spoken. If you want to be part of the majority next time around, the ball is in your court.

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