Monday, November 1, 2010

Patriotism (or lack thereof)

So with the upcoming midterm elections I've been watching a lot of news lately to try and make sure my decisions are informed decisions and I'm not picking candidates based on whether or not I like their suit. I feel it is very important to go out and vote and to make sure as a voter I know why I'm voting a particular way. It seems as though people stopped caring about politics in our country and are somewhat disillusioned with the idea of democracy. I see a lot of people saying "my vote isn't important" or "we're screwed either way". To say we're screwed either way might have some grounds because based on recent history especially on a state level it would appear that neither Republicans or Democrats know what the hell they are doing. But to completely give up on the democratic process is an insult to the people who have bled to maintain democracy and a slap in the face to our forefathers. It is clear that our founding fathers set up a democratic republic in order to rid our land of tyranny and to set up a government "for the people and by the people." However, a major part of their plan was having an informed citizenry to know what they were voting for. Thomas Jefferson himself stated that "Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight." Basically, a democracy is not possible without an educated and well informed citizenry, and based on some comments of my peers and even comments in media and other places, our democracy is destined to fail. People either are so disillusioned with democracy because of corporation's influence over public officials, corruption of other forms in Washington D.C., or simple apathy. Whatever the case may be, the current situation at least from a local perspective is discouraging.

However, this lack of trust in the government, this feeling of helplessness is what inspires me to get informed and to vote in every election. I believe in the democratic system that is the backbone of the United States. Our founding fathers did not design a perfect government and they knew that, but they were intelligent enough to allow for amendments to the Constitution in order to help make it better. I believe in my power to make a difference by simply going to my designated polling place, and casting my vote. Ever since I was a small child I took an interest in politics. I would look at my parents sample ballots and I'd cast my own ballot on what I would vote for if I could. Granted, my understanding of the political system at the time was elementary at best but I knew, that voting rights was not something everyone on this planet had, and I certainly would not take advantage of it. I don't know if other people weren't taught about democracy, or maybe because I was lucky to meet my grandfather's uncles, both distinguished world war two veterans who served our country honorably and with bravery, who knew the risks they took, but believed in defending something bigger than themselves.

Maybe I'm crazy in believing that my voice matters, maybe the conspiracy theories are right and are votes don't count. Or maybe I think the way I think because I value things that aren't tangible, like patriotism. It seems as time passes, more and more people lose a sense of patriotism and have lost a love for this country. I don't advocate nationalism, that the United States should be allowed to do whatever it wants at any cost, but I do believe we have set an example for nations to strive for, to come from being a colonial settlement, to the most prosperous and powerful nation in the world. And although we have hit economic hardships, and seem to be losing two wars, don't let radicals tell you otherwise, the United States is the most powerful country in the world and I'm glad to be a part of it. Despite our shortcomings, despite our differences, the American population has proven time and time again that we can overcome, we can survive, and we will not fail. I believe that this has been achieved through generations of Americans who value democracy, freedom, and the ability to work together; in Washington and even in our everyday lives. One can look at the current political situation and see politicians calling each other names, blacklisting each other, and throwing labels like "communist, socialist" etc around in order to try to polarize the country. However, the average American isn't to the far left or far right, but a moderate with certain beliefs that may lean more liberal or conservative. These are the people we need to focus on, because only through compromise and working together will the American dream be achieved.

To conclude, I feel it is imperative that in order for this country to turn around from these difficult times, a sense of patriotism must be instilled into the mainstream consciousness. It saddens me that in the past ten years, it seems that only the September 11th attacks were the only way to unite this great nation. I one day dream of a nation that works together to solve issues, instead of the hyper-partisan nation that tries to attack each other. This is why things don't get done. Not because the government is corrupt, not because big business runs Washington, but because people have lost a sense of patriotism; also we have lost a sense of duty to our country. I'm glad to be an American, I'm glad that I still feel this sense of duty to my country, to try and help in any way that I can. Whether or not my individual vote changed an election is irrelevant because our government isn't supposed to be controlled by one person, however if we all vote, if we all participate, if we all care, we can prosper, we can overcome hard times, and we will succeed.

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