We are responsible for the caliber of our government
By Frank Salvato
The rhetoric is quite charged in Washington DC these days and it is a bit more caustic than usual. The politicos on Capitol Hill are more aggressive in their rhetoric and their participation in the "Blame Game" as they pursue scapegoats to use as deflectors for criticism of their own lackluster performance. This pathetic display of "gotcha" politics is due in great part to the upcoming election and the only people we have to blame for this third-rate display of pandering are ourselves.
When it comes to government and politics, the American public is lazy. This may sound harsh but sometimes the truth hurts. We have abdicated our responsibility for seeking the truth to mealy-mouthed politicians, over-zealous special interest groups and a deceitful, agenda-driven media.
The truth is, a majority of Americans know more about the fictitious war against terrorists presented on the FOX television series 24 than they do about the real war against radical Islamist terror groups and the nation states that harbor and support them. The fact that so many Americans don't recognize the conflict in Iraq as but a battle in the over all war against Islamofascism – a war taking place in Baghdad, Haifa, Beirut, Madrid, Paris, London, Manila, Bali, Kabul, Islamabad and New York, to name but a few places around the globe – stands as proof positive that they haven't found it important enough to be bothered with seeking out the facts.
And why should we be bothered with seeking out the facts for ourselves? After all, that's what we pay our government to do. That's why we invest thirty to sixty minutes of our precious time each day – on average – to our favorite news sources. Because our lives are so hectic, it's easier to rely on our elected politicians, pundits and the news media to divine the facts for us.
Well, America, you get what you pay for.
By relying on the positioned rhetoric of the politicians, and the mainstream media that reports on it, we have effectively – and tacitly – delivered our nation to the brink of mediocrity in decline. We have allowed politics to run roughshod over good government and permitted polarized national political parties to take control. Our Founders and Framers feared that political factions would come to dominate the governmental process in the United States and we – through our self-indulgent apathy – have facilitated the realization of those fears.
Further, because of our "hands-off" approach to politics, government and the fact-seeking process, we have allowed special interest groups to gather incredible influence within the halls of government. Groups like MoveOn.org, A.N.S.W.E.R., ACORN and ACT – groups that have manipulated information to suit their agenda – and organizations funded and championed by non-American citizens attempting to advance "an alternative world view" over our constitutional government, are literally setting agenda in the halls of Congress, dictating criteria to our judicial system and coercing the Executive Branch into approaching potentially apocalyptic situations with a "politically correct" eye.
It is our apathy for the facts, our indifference for finding out the truth, which has led us here. We can blame the elected officials all we want for the scandals they create or the promised legislation they don't produce, but the largest percentage of blame for ineffective government lies with the voters. We are the ones who don't fully vet the candidates before elections. We are the ones that don't seek out and encourage the best qualified to run for public office. We are the ones who fail to demand that those who are elected to office serve their constituents instead of their national parties.
And we are the ones who have empowered the elitist enterprises of the agenda-driven media by not questioning their motives and by accepting their ratings-based, often sensationalized, blather as truth without examination of their reports.
It is well past time that the American people took responsibility for the sorry state of our government. In doing so we must accept that we have been too lazy to do the requisite work needed to elect good people to office, instead opting to spotlight the shortcomings of those we have elected to power after the fact. We must break free of the constraints of ignorance and apathy and once again engage the process of sending good men and women to the halls of government.
If the upcoming elections are to be of any value to the quest for better government – for government over politics – we have to make sure we vote intelligently and in order to vote intelligently we – each of us – have to thoroughly examine the candidates vying for consideration. This requires the investment of our time and that involves turning off American Idol, if only for the evening, and doing some homework on the positions each candidate takes on the important issues facing our country, their qualifications for elected office and their backgrounds. In this, the information Age, it isn't hard to do.
We've all heard the mantra "every vote counts." While this sentiment is well-intentioned it doesn't address the intellectual quality of those "votes." In fact, it promotes the participation of those voters who arrive at the polls uninformed and/or purposely deceived about the candidates and the issues.
If we are to achieve a more effective, more responsible and more potent government we have to look closer at those who we send to Washington before we send them to Washington. By doing so, perhaps we can change the mantra from "every vote counts" to "every voter counts."
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato