How to earn respect as a voter

 Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. 

~Franklin D. Roosevelt~
A recent opinion in a letter to the editor stated that politicians should respect voters’ intelligence. This seems to be a fairly common theme in political opinion writing these days. I have wondered lately whether we as voters deserve respect for our intelligence.

Complaining about our elected representatives and officials is also quite common these days. A telephone survey in May, 2015 found that just eighteen percent of voters think most members of Congress care what their constituents think. If they are so out of touch, where did these officials come from? We elected them of course. Well, the fifty-five percent of voters who showed up at the polls did.

So what’s the problem here? Why do we keep electing people who don’t care what we think? What are we thinking when we vote for them? Are we thinking about whether they are willing to work together for the common good? Or do we vote based on our fears or self interest? Some of us don’t bother to vote at all.

When you read what goes on in congress and what happens in our society, you might not find a great deal of difference.  Most of the time congress is in deadlock over just about every issue. Congress reflects the conflicting views and interests we see in society. We find ourselves pitted against each other on just about every issue you can think of. It is no wonder that congress reflects our society. Do you like living this way and being led this way?

I don’t either. Our nation started with a common ideal. We wanted a country in which our citizens could pursue their own happiness without restriction on our free speech or religious views. Although this was the goal, our founding fathers were not perfect. They forgot that everyone is human and convinced themselves that slavery was acceptable.

In more recent times, we came to see the pursuit of happiness as a way to get what we want without regard to the implications for our fellow citizens. Everyone for themselves. We have become short-sighted and selfish in many regards.

When we don’t consider others’ needs, getting what we want just makes them envious and leads to class wars as well as individual skirmishes. I don’t suggest that we can all agree on everything we think, say and do. Then we would be robots. But I think there is a way out.

Imagine living in a nation in which we can again see each other as brothers and sisters. Would you let your family starve or struggle or would you help them to the extent you can? That is the choice we have. We can continue growing more selfish or we can take each others’ needs into account as well as our own.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Think about what you need and what you merely want.
  • Use you eyes and ears to discover what others want.
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to help others with their needs?
  • How can you share what you have?
  • Vote and engage your conscience when you do.
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