SOUNDOFF: Vote and help country evolve

The beauty of democracy is its ability to change and evolve with our society. It is never static. It is a noisy process, chaotic at best. There will be conservatives who like things to stay the same and we thank them for keeping the process from being a runaway train. We thank the liberal, who constantly challenges and tests the system, and pulls us into the future with the zeal of a teenager. The two complement each other wonderfully. When the system is really working no one is entirely satisfied.

The America today only slightly resembles the America of yesteryear, and the America tomorrow will only resemble today for a short time, but the tenets of democracy will survive long past because our Constitution lives and breaths and inspires and disciplines. It is our past and our link to the future.

The democratic process will have many successes and a few failures. Many times these failures are moderated because a compromise was made and our democratic necks were not stretched too far when the proverbial axe fell. Other times we can get bogged down in dogmatic recoil and it requires the pragmatic to bring a new light to lead us forward. He makes waves and creates a disturbance and agitates and upsets that which is mired in the quag of complacency. When forced to sink or swim, eventually we move forward. When our society gets caught in a torrent, and things are spinning out of control, the tried and true conservative is our rock, stalwart, solid and immovable, and an anchor to weather the storm.

Politics have gotten too personal. The process has gotten to where each side demonizes the other. No respect of the individual comes with the practice of democracy today. Accusation and innuendo flies back and forth like a shuttlecock and everyone on both sides is looking for a way to impugn the other. We find ourselves voting against a candidate instead of voting for one based on the merits of his or her ideas. Party platforms are completely obscured by demagoguery and the veil of self-righteousness.

For our democracy to work, we need to wrest control of politics from the grip of special interest and huge corporate giants. We need to regain the ears of our elected officials because accessibility is critical. The average citizen needs the ability to have an audience with his congressman, without a contribution to the party coffers and lobbyists need to have their influence curtailed. Write your congressman, let him know what you think!

Most importantly, vote! Cast your vote every time. It is the only tool you have to effect change, moderate change, or to prevent change. Be publicly responsible. Be politically aware. Try to understand both sides of every issue. Let your faith guide your heart, but don’t let the pulpit dictate your vote.

There are some pretty unusual ideas out there, so if it looks like dung, smells like dung, don’t step in it, it probably is dung. If a candidate expounds a radical new policy, check his credentials, If he or she is sound, maybe the policy is sound. Be ever vigilant for hypocrisy, it’s omni-present, and the pot will always call the kettle black. Keep a scorecard about a candidate’s stance on political issues, and compare all of his views to your own. You will likely be making a few compromises.

If you must vote a straight party ticket, participate in your party’s caucuses and vote in the primaries. It is paramount to be part of the selection process. Don’t let tradition or party loyalty stand in your way. There is immense power is the swing vote and if the party strays, that vote can get them back in line. Look at a candidate’s voting record, is he or she true to the cause? Trust your instincts, look for sincerity, honesty, vision and experience. Watch out when a candidate begins to walk that fine line between patriotism and nationalism. Watch out for the condescending and the paranoid. Be suspicious of those who say, “You just don’t understand.” Be proud of your flag, but careful of those who see it as a holy relic. If a candidate wraps himself too tightly in the flag, look carefully to see what he is trying to conceal. Be wary of propaganda, rhetoric, and diatribe.

Vote! The enemy of democracy is public apathy, never think your vote doesn’t count. Vote! It’s more than a right, it’s an obligation. Vote! Every chance you get. Vote! Be part of this great democratic experiment. Vote! And be counted!

John Cline lives in Oak Harbor.

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