Politics That Matters (Guest Voice)
Politics That Matters
by Ron Almberg, Jr.
Thank goodness it is over: mid-term elections. The day following elections, November 3rd, is almost as bad as the days leading up to Election Day on November 2nd. The whole day is taken up with pundits and analysts telling us what the election results mean; as if we are too ignorant to figure that out ourselves and need someone to tell us. Of course, even the analysis is driven by political views. So, none of it is hardly objective – from the left, right or center.
At least for a short period of time, about 18 months, we will not have to listen to the ads, get phone calls from pollsters, and be visually assaulted by placards along our streets and highways. It is not that I am against the American political process. Far from it! We are privileged to be citizens of a country that can change political authorities without a coupe or revolution that causes death and destruction. Few nations in the world can do this.
I am just tired of the mean-spirited, misleading and meaningless droning that has taken over any real civil dialogue that will result in really solving problems. Much of today’s political proclamation reminds me of a poster I saw one time for a revival meeting taking place at a conservative Baptist church in our neighborhood. In bold-letters across the top is declared, “Come hear preaching against!“ And then it went on to list all of the ills of our society: smoking, drinking, gambling, movies, television, dancing, illegal drugs, swearing, etc. The whole poster was filled with issues that listeners could go and hear preached against.
It struck me in the weeks leading up to the elections that this was pretty much all I was hearing in the debates. Propaganda I received in the mail never espoused what a candidate was for and any solutions the candidate was offering to solve our state or federal problems. They all consisted of what a political action committee (PAC) or sponsor for an opposing candidate was against. How helpful.
I was taught years ago that any unskilled moron can tear apart a barn. However, it takes a skilled craftsman and someone who really knows what they are doing to build one. It would appear to me that we have more than enough people who can identify the problem and tear apart what already been attempted. What we are really lacking is enough people who can come together to build something that will benefit everyone and last.
All of this has got me to thinking about politics that really matter. It has been a “hobby-horse” of mine for years now, but this past election cycle has only solidified my opinion regarding American politics. It is simply this: The only politics that really matter is the politics you and I practice everyday. Let me explain, please.
The most basic definition of the word “politics” is offered to us by the Merriam-Webster as “the art or science of government.” Now, before you rush head-long into thinking that the word “government” has only to do with out large scale federal and state governments, think again. Our early American Founders understood first and foremost that governance, or government, was first and foremost a personal matter. It concerns how one governs his or her own affairs: home, land, finances, relationships, etc. Thus government, properly practiced, starts within one’s own home.
Unfortunately, it seems that as a society as a whole we have lost touched with this reality. We focus on macro-politics, when our most important contributions are on the micro-political level. The American electorate gets all worked up over what party is in power, what national issues are screaming for out attention, and who has most recently offended our political sensibilities. Meanwhile, the everyday things we could do to govern ourselves and our own circle of influence goes unmet.
For example, the political debate over health care is a major issue on the national scale. Yet, how many of us really practice responsible self-government in the way we eat and exercise? All of us contribute to the rise of health care costs when we let obesity and a sedentary lifestyle send us to the doctor for expensive medical procedures and then expect our insurance companies to pay for it (which is paid for by the rest of contributing to the system, by the way).
Many conservative and religious American voters vow to only vote for pro-life candidates. However, how many of them actually help the governance of their local pregnancy centers by volunteering time or donating money? It is useless, let alone hypocritical, to vote for state or national pro-life candidates if one is unwilling to act locally to help those with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies. Personal politics demands that I practice self-governance that I vote for on my election ballot.
In other words, what we demand on the larger scale of the political arena, let us practice on the political scale that really matters: personal politics and self-governance. By making a difference in our own towns, cities, neighborhoods, local schools, food banks, rehab centers, social agencies and volunteer organizations, our culture is changed at the micro-level. This change will be reflected at the macro-level as those within our communities and raised on our values are elevated to larger or macro levels of political responsibility.
The politics that matter start on the personal level. If we cannot self-govern, then what makes us think that anyone we elect will be able to govern for us? This is only a cop-out. Instead of taking personal responsibility to choose and to act, we want those in government to tell us what to do so that we can blame them when it does not work out. It gives us an excuse to “Vote the bums out!” It is time for every American to take a personal vote. If you were “president” of you, would you re-elect yourself? If the answer is no, it is time for some soul-searching.
The reality is what we all know too clearly. There is no administration or elected official that is going to bring solutions to all of our problems. It is up to each of us to practice politics that matter, which is the science and art of governance. Let’s start with self-governance and go from there.
©Weatherstone/Ron Almberg, Jr. (2010)
Ron Almberg, Jr. and his family live in the Tri-Cities, Washington. He was a pastoral leader for 25 years. Now he enjoys reading and writing about a wide variety of issues as well as practicing nature photography. This is cross-posted from his blog.