As Americans we have a rich history of struggle in our attempt at a more perfect union. Listening to the President’s state of the union address in a time when we have witnessed many firsts, I couldn’t help but wonder how different our society would be if all of our decisions started with the phrase “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
Would our energy policy be weighted down with huge subsidies for fossil fuels, while renewable, sustainable energy sources referred to as “alternative energy”? Would food stamps, a livable wage, and unemployment insurance compensation be considered controversial in a time of economic difficulty, while huge corporate profits soar? Would we be vulnerable to price gouging by the natural and propane gas industry because extremely cold temperatures have us scrambling to keep warm?
We hear a lot about “we the people” being disenfranchised, tuned out, not interested in politics. According to the Wisconsin Governmental Accountability Board, voter turn-out for the 2012 election was 70.1%. That was the year President Obama was re-elected to serve a second term. Wisconsin was a state that voted for President Obama for both terms. So where were all those voters in 2010? That election, which resulted in huge wins for climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry puppets, is what is called “an off-year” election, meaning we don’t vote for President. In 2010 49.7% of Wisconsinites cast their vote for various elected officials, including Governor. Not even a majority of “the people” of Wisconsin felt it was an important enough election to vote in. And those who did vote – did they really know what policies they were supporting? Do people really analyze what a politician stands for? Are they for “the people” or are they for the corporate interests that pump endless amounts of money into campaigns. Maybe we should all turn off the tv and radio and quit reading the political propaganda that makes it to our mail boxes and actually have a discussion with our candidates. Maybe then we have a shot at electing people who really do want to serve this country and not the corporate interests that spin the messages that get them elected.
I would like to suggest that the “off year” election is probably a more important election than the presidential election. I would also suggest that any election – whether it be for your representative on the board of your local electric cooperative, town board, city council, governor, or president – is important enough to cast your vote in. When President Abraham Lincoln gave The Gettysburg Address he was honoring the dead during a horrific civil war in this country. It is not enough for any of us to display the flag of this country or to honor those who serve this country in a variety of ways, not just as soldiers. If we do not exercise and maintain our right to vote, we dishonor all those who fought and died for the very idea of this country. As so eloquently stated by President Lincoln, “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
The reason we have serious issues with how our government operates or doesn’t operate, is because “the people” have allowed themselves to be taken out of the process. Any President may want to do a lot of good things for the people of this country, but without “the people’s House” working with him or her, not a lot can get done. Mr. Obama is the President, not the dictator of this country. Congress is elected to represent us – the people. The branches of government are supposed to work together to serve “the people”. We the people need to get back in the game – every election must have the majority of our voices heard in the form of a vote for each elected representative or the idea of this country will have perished from the earth.
Deer Park, WI