It’s been a long while since I posted anything of a political nature on this here blog–and with good reason. Looking back at some of my more “expressive” posts from the last election year (please don’t), those posts came out of a deep concern for the direction of the country, and from a distinct conservative standpoint. But after all the dust settled and I thought back, I realized that they also reflected a loss of perspective, and to be honest, I didn’t really like what I was reflecting when I wrote those posts.
Now that we’re in another election year, I’m in a completely different place mentally and emotionally (not just physically). I’m actually surprised at how disinterested I am in the whole political circus. And for a variety of reasons, while I still lean conservatively on a lot of issues, I think I am more of a moderate now. Actually, I am more apolitical now than I have probably ever been. This might make some people upset, but I don’t even plan to vote in this year’s election–not because I devalue my rights or responsibilities as a US citizen, but frankly because I’m not very settled with either candidate, and I don’t want to feel responsible for putting either of them in office. 🙂 So for the time being at least, I’ve chosen to watch and pray.
Why am I apolitical right now? Since calming myself down and detaching emotionally from the last election, and just looking at the landscape for awhile, I’ve noticed a few key things.
1. Obama didn’t destroy the nation. Do I agree with everything he’s done, or his policies? Nope. But we’re all still here, the Constitution is still intact, and while the economy is still a wreck in some ways, bread is not $50 a loaf or anything. The government may be more involved with our lives than I personally would like, but more on that in a bit.
2. Neither candidate is the antichrist that the other side paints them to be. George W. Bush was not Hitler reincarnated. Neither is Obama, and neither is Romney. Each presidential candidate has his own ideas of how to fix what’s wrong, but the power of either to actually fix it is limited.
3. I don’t trust either political party at this point, or their candidates. Not just within the presidential campaign, but within Congress, too. There’s too much political posturing, mudslinging and general dishonesty, and you can’t really tell what anyone is actually going to do until they get into office. (Interestingly for me, this is the first time in many years that I’ve lived in a “swing state.” We didn’t get many political ads for the presidential campaign in Oklahoma, which is automatically assumed to go to the GOP. Here in Colorado, it’s the first time I’ve been witness to the mudslinging by both the Romney and Obama camps, and it’s sickening. Ron Paul is looking better by the day–and that’s scary in itself. Equally scary is the fact that the people who make the most sense right now in the political landscape are the comic talk show hosts on Comedy Central. Just saying.)
4. The government and political system is broken in general. I believe in the check-and-balance system of our government, but somehow the process has gotten hijacked to where nothing is getting done. Until we see significant change (even if it’s just in people’s attitudes), it’s going to stay broken, no matter what party is in power. Just an observation.
5. My example is Jesus, not the Republican party. When Jesus walked this earth, He was remarkably apolitical. People wanted to make Him king by force, they wanted to use Him as a political figure, but He stayed out of the fray. He only spoke of a kingdom not of this earth.
All of these things have (at least for the time being) made me fairly ambivalent when it comes to politics in this country. Like I said, I don’t deny my rights or responsibilities as a citizen, but I’m not ready to jump back into the morass right now. I’m valuing my peace of mind too much, and despite what alarmists say on both sides of the aisle, I do not believe having either candidate in office will make or break the country. I’d rather wait until someone presents a cause I can actually believe in, and have my vote count for someone or something, rather than against someone else.
Now, as to my changing political views in general–why I lean less conservative and more moderate these days–I could probably put this in a new blog post, but I’ll just tack it on here and see where it goes. It really comes down to one thing I’ve been thinking about for some time:
SELF-GOVERNMENT MEANS YOU MUST GOVERN YOURSELF.
At heart, I still believe in the basic premise under which the Founding Fathers established this nation: people can govern themselves, if given the chance. The more limited government is, and the more personal freedom is encouraged, the more I like it. But as a realist, I also understand that there was a character trait built into Americans of earlier generations that is now missing from our culture: a sense of personal responsibility. For self-government to work, we must be able to show restraint and govern ourselves. Otherwise, it dissolves into anarchy.
A few years ago I was browsing in an antique shop, and I came across an old textbook dating back to the 1930s or so. The textbook was about citizenship–how to be a good citizen of the United States, and the responsibilities involved. As I looked through the pages and saw the kinds of things discussed in the book, about our responsibilities to look out for the other guy, and think of the good of the many, not just the good of the few, I nearly wept right there in the store. I thought, We don’t teach this to our kids anymore. I think I was probably in the last generation of kids in which a real sense of citizenship was instilled in our schooling.
Over time, we’ve seen the effects of this lapse in our education. We’re now several generations deep into self-centered living, everyone looking out for “number one.” Our moral compass is completely on the fritz because there is no longer any such thing as absolute Truth. Whatever is expedient for us, at the moment, that’s what we do–whether it hurts someone else or not. We now have people in public office who live their lives this way (which is part of why the system doesn’t work anymore). We now have CEOs of major corporations with no scruples whatsoever. We have healthcare costs rising, education systems failing, and all sorts of similar stuff–and it’s not because we’ve got it structured wrong. It’s because people don’t know how to govern themselves anymore. People make decisions based on what benefits them and them alone, because we’ve forgotten what it means to be a citizen.
My point is that if we Americans won’t or can’t govern ourselves, we still have to be governed somehow. As much as I believe theoretically in limited government, if people refuse to practice restraint and look out for their fellow man, government has to step in with some sense of regulation to prevent everything from falling apart. If the private sector won’t kick in and start providing for people in need, then the government has to get involved. We wouldn’t need a government healthcare system if the healthcare sector had the scruples to regulate itself. Does that make sense?
So while I like the idea of limited government, and I personally despise the idea of growing the government, unless this country regains its moral compass and people learn how to govern themselves again, I don’t see many alternatives. And that’s why I’m now a moderate. The idealist in me is still conservative, but the realist understands we no longer have enough sense of self-restraint for true democracy to work. I hope that changes someday for the better, but for now, we must do what is necessary to keep some sense of order until people figure out how to govern themselves again.
That’s what I think, anyway. 🙂