Six different TVs are currently surrounding me, with most displaying a swirling mix of reds, blues, and percents. It’s just after 9:00 p.m. here in Iowa, and I’m sitting here with Anna at a campus dining center where we await the results (and, thank God, the closure) of this election.
Though I’ve remained quite silent about politics throughout this election cycle, I now feel compelled to write about my feelings at this point. This desire probably stems from me wanting to avoid working on actual projects – that, and my face hurts too much already to keep reading Axe Cop.
So, I’m going to talk about the election. Or not.
You see, while the election is important, I believe it’s not the only important thing. There’s something much more important that I’d like to talk about.
However, before I get to that, I’d like to preface it by talking a bit about myself.
Being a generally well-educated and outspoken person, it may surprise you to discover that I hold far fewer concrete political beliefs than the average person. I’m very, very neutral about most things.
Now, this isn’t necessarily because I’m lazy. Not at all. It’s actually because I’m conflicted.
You see, to me, most political issues create a power balance battle – should more power be given to the government, or should it be given to the people? (or the corporations?)
At heart, I tend to be pretty libertarian. I’d much rather have the power to make my own choices and to live my own life than to have some entity telling me what to do, and I’d like everyone else to have the same rights as well. This belief also extends to business; at a fundamental level, I believe people should be able to conduct business on their own without too many regulations or interference.
However, our reality makes it painfully obvious that too much freedom becomes a bad thing.
Exhibit A: Corporations that are allowed too much freedom often become too large and restrict the freedom of others or become just plain evil.
Exhibit B: People given the freedom to eat what they want and sit around all the time become trapped in a cycle of unhealthy behavior that leads to our current health epidemic.
I could give many, many more examples. I won’t, however, because my views on specific issues aren’t the point here.
The point is deciding how much power can be given to the people before we start to destroy ourselves with it.
James Madison said it better than I ever could in The Federalist Papers:
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
Basically, if we were perfect, we could just go about our business and not have to give up some of our power to a governing entity.
But we’re not. We get greedy. We get lazy. We marginalize and discriminate. We become irrational. Sometimes we do horrible things.
Maybe you don’t do these things – I hope you at least try to avoid them. I do. But the fact is that we’re not perfect.
However, we can strive to be better.
We have the ability to shape our own fates. We make the choices that shape our lives. Even when the government controls a lot of what we do, there are still a myriad of choices we can make all on our own that can determine whether we make a good impact or not.
This is what I want to say. This is my utmost belief. It is more dear and important to me than any party platform or slogan or issue.
I surely won’t say the outcome to this election doesn’t matter. It does. Whoever wins this election will shape the course our nation takes for the next four years. A lot will change depending on who wins.
Yet, a lot will stay the same – unless we decide to change it.
Whatever your views on ObamaCare are, you can help solve the real problem by starting at the source. Eat right, sleep well, and move a lot. If the Japanese can do it, so can we. Four of the top five leading causes of death in the this country (heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and stroke) can be largely prevented by eliminating sedentary, unhealthy lifestyles.
Whatever your views on gay marriage, hate speech, flag burning, protesting, etc are, you can help solve the real problem by simply choosing to not ignore people. The people who are actively discriminated against most certainly should be treated equally, but they’re the ones whose pain we can see. Don’t forget the people we simply throw by the wayside and ignore.
Don’t pass over people who quietly suffer – offer them your hand or your ear. Listen to them. Help them. Take interest in the issues your neighbor is facing – ignoring them and surfing Reddit doesn’t do any good.
Every issue is important, and each side has an argument they’re passionate about. Still, the greatest thing we can do to improve this country is to give more importance to our own personal responsibilities.
That’s why the candidate I truly care about is us.
Thanks for listening. Now let’s get ready for the long-awaited return to a normal Facebook feed with memes and complaints about work 😉