We Get the Government We Deserve
This weekend we saw a number of frustrated citizens take a stand to show that they will not allow the government to close our monuments. Depending on who you speak with in the political world, this may seem like a hollow gesture. “What did they actually accomplish?” is a question you might hear. Here’s what Brett Wells, a friend of mine who joined the protest at Valley Forge National Historic Park in Pennsylvania, had to say:
At 46 years old, I finally participated in my first act of civil disobedience today. It felt great to be a part of a larger movement. Very humbling.
The readings at my church this weekend spoke to the point of gratitude and humility. The Gospel of Luke relayed the story of the ten men healed of their leprosy – none returned to thank Jesus for curing them except one… a Samaritan who by the standards of civil society was not worthy of concern.
How do we show gratitude for what we have been given by those who came before us? For as much as we hail the vision of our Founding Fathers, even among conservatives we don’t seem to take the obligation of citizenship very seriously. While complaining about what bothers you about government is cathartic, it only gets you so far – without some visible action, some discernible step toward change you really can’t expect anything different to happen.
Do you know someone who speculates as to how they would spend lottery winnings but never buys a ticket? It’s not likely they would win, but the chances they will win are absolutely zero if they don’t participate. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is fond of saying, “You lose 100% of the fights you fail to show up for.”
Over the last week we have covered the caucus for the open seat representing Indiana House District 85 and subsequent election of State Representative Casey Cox (R-Fort Wayne). In the aftermath of the caucus Fort Wayne conservative activist Ric Runstead suggested the caucus voters were “stacked” in favor of Rep. Cox in a letter to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette . In a discussion that followed on Facebook, New Haven Republican Craig Dellinger shared these thoughts:
I think I was the last appointed (precinct committeeman), and it was never suggested to me who to vote for. However, we have to acknowledge that a large portion of the (precinct committeemen) that voted in the caucus don’t even live in the 85th District. As a previously elected PC, I asked Steve to appoint me again because I wanted to represent New Haven. It’s not (Allen County Republican Chairman) Steve (Shine)’s fault for appointing people outside of the district to fill positions. It’s his job and responsibility to make sure the positions are filled. It’s our fault for not finding people in our own district to represent ourselves. (emphasis mine)
Our government is set up to operate under the premise that we are going to take some part in what is going on. I see conservative activists on many fronts getting frustrated and fed up that no one is joining the fight. Bottom line, too few people actually care about what is going on in our country, in our state and in our community because we’ve stopped giving them reasons to care.
In the case of this caucus, many of the precinct committeemen were not from the area they are responsible for serving. With local government we see policymakers looking for ways to centralize local government operations because in some jurisdictions people don’t take a responsible approach to local government. Increasingly we see consolidation of organizations with different responsibilities because there aren’t enough leaders to go around to serve on the boards and commissions of all these organizations.
While to some extent I’m making excuses for those who choose to not participate, you can hardly deny the effectiveness of mobilizing people and rallying them around a cause. You don’t have to go back that far to find a modern example of this behavior. While President Obama has demonstrated that he’s not nearly as competent running a government as he is running a campaign – the fact of the matter is Obamacare is the end result of someone mobilizing people around an idea.
More often than not I’m finding front-line activists complaining about a lack of passion… but I’m seeing more and more people complain about what’s going on without doing a thing about the situation. I read more fights about tactics and ambition than I do about taking action or achieving objective.
We have to break this cycle. Our window is closing. As more people become dependent upon government while its approval rating drops through the floor, you have to wonder how long we can keep this up. This weekend we reported that Rachel Jacobs taking over as political director for the Indiana Republican Party. Her boss, Chairman Tim Berry, just started a few months ago. Let’s start finding ways to stir the passions of people so that the simple step of serving their precinct or attending a convention isn’t a burden but a way to be a part of the process!
And for all those who complain without doing anything about it – if you want to do something, the time to take action is now! If you’re pissed off about how things are going, stop fighting with others who are pissed off and figure out a way we can move forward together. Let’s start showing some gratitude for this system of government by actually participating in it rather than complaining about the outcomes it produces.
This post was tagged under: 2014 Election, 2016 Election, Campaigning, Congress, Elections, Federal Government, General Assembly, Government, Government Programs, Health Care, Indiana Politics, Local Elections, Local Government, Local Government Reform, Local Politics, National Politics, Politics, POTUS '16, Presidential Politics, Tim Berry