Opinion

Call to Action - A Civics Lesson for 2022 Guest Commentary by Joy Bordenave

Midterm elections are coming soon . How many voters are aware just how important their vote is?

Now is the time to express your satisfaction or lack thereof, with local, state, or national representatives. Keep or delete. The outcome of this election will impact the new makeup of both the Senate and House of Representatives, which can ultimately affect the 2024 presidential election.

It’s time to embrace new people with ideas for our future. Term limits would allow for a continuous rotation. Although Republicans and Democrats are the two major political parties, there is a third party option that plays a vital role in election results. YOUR VOTE MATTERS!

POLITICAL PARTIES

No, we don’t all agree on the nuts and bolts of how a job gets done. That is why we have different political parties. In a healthy society, we should all be able to discuss our differences in a calm and rational way. Too often one side feels that the only way they are going to be heard is to resort to screaming and/or violence.

Lately, we are seeing two extremes. One party is too far to the right and the other too far to the left. One side feels the government wants to give people a free ride and the other feels assistance is just government giveaways. Sorry, but NOTHING is free.

Everything comes at a cost and ultimately somebody has to pay. Often this comes in the form of tax increases. The middleman is the group that feels they are the ones paying for everyone. They feel that they worked hard to get where they are and expect others to have to do the same.

Unfortunately, circumstances and opportunities have not been the same for everyone. In many cases, the marginalized and disenfranchised will never get ahead. When systemic roadblocks are put in place to keep people on the bottom and don’t allow for advancement of their causes or education then there is no growth.

The conversation/argument that needs to be had is about the ever-rising costs of tuition at our institutions of higher learning. The interest rates charged on these loans makes it almost impossible to ever clear the debt. Some work their whole lives trying to pay off their student loans. The presence of poverty can lead to hopelessness and crime.

Until recently, our country has always had a peaceful transfer of power. This was not the case after our last election. The January 6th attack on our capital was a crime like never before witnessed against our democracy.

Whether you liked the previous administration or not is not the question. What actions will you take to make America better? Wake up people! Our democracy is at stake!

THE THIRD PARTY

While the two major parties duke it out, there are still many unheard voices. There are Independent or Unaffiliated individuals who choose not to vote for either of the popular candidates. Their vote can be seen as a vote for someone other than the other two options. Unfortunately, it’s like saying, “I don’t agree with either one of you so I’ll wait to see who wins the battle.” Depending on the state you live in, you may not be able to even vote in the primaries. Many of today’s campaigns are fought on singular platform like the economy, guns, abortion, immigration, etc. Independents represent an ever-growing number of the population. It is so very important for them to show up and help carry the baton across the finish line. An ever-evolving society has changed the footprint of America. We’ve come a long way from the early fights for women’s rights and civil rights. It is time to take a stand for human rights. When people stand together on an issue that’s when change can take place. It takes strength and endurance to go against the flow. However, it becomes easier when you have the support of others.

EARLY BEGINNINGS

Early immigrants came to the new world (America) for many different reasons. Some came as early settlers, some for religious freedoms, and still others to escape oppressive British rule. After enduring many hardships, they banned together to create a new self-governing country. Our Founding Fathers drafted and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The US Constitution was ratified in 1788. The first ten amendments to the constitution are known as the Bill of Rights. Other countries have looked to the US as a model for democracy. Men and women have fought and died for the privileges so many take for granted. Do we have a perfect system? NO! We have made and continue to experience many gross inequities to include human beings being sold into slavery, Native Americans being thrown off their land, and today, undocumented workers. Our hands are bloodied with a sordid history.

The problem has been that the last few presidents, both Republican and Democrat, have all kicked the legal immigration process down the road. The “Catch and Release” process had/has been the norm for decades. The undocumented have had to endure the injustices of unscrupulous employers who don’t pay them a living wage. However, they continue to risk their lives for the chance to live in a country of opportunities where they are safe to live, work, and raise their children. People complain and blame the government for how money is spent on healthcare, military, and immigration. The very rights our Constitution outlines/affords us: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all under attack.

HOW DEMOCRACY WORKS

Our government was established with oversites in place. Students learn about the three branches of government in middle or high school. They are the Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Courts). They are separate by design.

We live in a Constitutional Republic not a dictatorship. WE THE PEOPLE elect representatives to speak for us in Washington DC. Due to 21st Century improvements in technology, maybe there is a need to revisit how this process is working. Over time, the water has become very dirty.

Yes, in recent years we’ve heard Obama’s slogan calling for “Change” and Trump’s call to “Drain the Swamp”. Both of these appealed to people who are sick and disheartened by the noise and lack of progress in government. The lobbying, deals, and PACs designed to keep representatives in both house and senate seats, with lucrative salaries and benefit packages, needs to end. When an individual is in a position for an extended period of time, we all lose.

Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi, as well as many others, are overdue for replacement. Just as the president is only allowed two terms, in my opinion, ALL congressional positions should be limited appointments. After a certain point, they homestead in their positions.

We are in dire need of new blood! WE THE PEOPLE have allowed this to happen! How? By not educating ourselves on issues and continuing to vote them into office. IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT WE THE PEOPLE FIND OUR VOICE! When WE THE PEOPLE are dedicated to a certain outcome, we can move mountains! This was recently demonstrated by the outpouring of voters in Kansas on the Roe versus Wade decision. The people voted to allow women the absolute right to choose what she will or will not do with her body. There are some things that government has no business putting their nose into.

ECONOMICS

Farmers are the backbone of our country. They provide the food we eat. In many families, farming/ranching is a tradition that has been handed down for many generations. In recent decades, the government has become increasingly involved with issues like climate change, water rights, land usage, supply and demand, and let’s not forget taxes. After many broken promises and loss of revenue, the trust is gone! The Native American population learned this lesson long ago.

There is an expression “Old Money”. This refers to generationally inherited wealth. There are families that are born into money. Others have worked hard to earn it. They are the success stories we refer to as the “The American Dream”.

However, during the Great Depression, 1929-1939, President Roosevelt focused on creating jobs for the masses. By 1935, a Welfare system was established to help poor children and other dependent persons. Local state officials determined the fate of those applying. The officials commonly discriminated against individuals because of their race, nationality, or religion. The poor were labeled as lazy. Hostility grew among people in the working class who felt that they were carrying more than their fair share of the load. It was believed that once people were able to get back to work, the program would dissolve. This was a very real separation of the haves and have nots. In 1965, President Johnson signed the Medicare Act, also known as the Social Security Act. Workers paid into the program from their earnings to secure an income after their retirement. Today, due to an aging population and longer life spans, there are questions about the solvency of the program. Yes, people are angry. This has caused much of the divisiveness in our country.

JUSTICE

Many are quick to condemn our politics and justice system. Once again, we have a lot of work to do in this arena. Although flawed, it is better than many other countries. Just ask Britney Griner. Our justice system is designed for presentation of facts. In a courtroom, the judge or jury must decide a case based on their ability to make fair and rational decisions about the information they receive.

The same is true in politics. It is our duty to educate ourselves. We must listen and diligently discern what each side presents. Not everything is black and white. There are many shades of gray between the two.

ACTIONS TO TAKE

We cannot continue to believe it is all the government’s fault. So what steps should we take? Get informed. Get involved in the community. Join civic or church groups. Volunteer at local schools. Get out and vote. Encourage others who have never felt that their vote makes a difference to do the same. A call to activism is needed more today than ever before! We owe it to our children and grandchildren to take action NOW! We must immediately work together to resolve issues on living wages, systemic racism, mental health programs, gun control, healthcare for all, drugs and safety, and most importantly, education.

On a global perspective, climate, nuclear arms, and peace are at the forefront. The bottom line is simply GREED. The playground bully doesn’t want to share and thinks he/she is entitled to it all. Unfortunately, the last couple of generations have been growing a world of entitled children. Yes, they want to give their children those things they didn’t have. They worked hard to do so. As said before, NOTHING is free. Today’s kids will never appreciate things that are just given to them. The poem “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” comes to mind. I recently read a quotation placed at the gate of a university in South Africa that read: “Destroying any nation does not require the use of atomic bombs or the use of long range missiles. It only requires lowering the quality of education and allowing cheating in the examinations by the students. Patients die at the hands of such doctors. Buildings collapse at the hands of such engineers. Money is lost at the hands of such economists and accountants. Humanity dies at the hands of such religious scholars. Justice is lost at the hands of such judges. The collapse of education is the collapse of the nation.” Lying, cheating, and stealing are not values that we should embrace. Empathy, compassion, and love are for the better good of us all.

So many of our ancestors fought and died for our right to vote yet so many do not use it. Change will only come when WE THE PEOPLE make it a priority. As Maya Angelo said, “When you know better, you are expected to do better.” We ALL must take responsibility in making our country better.

In spite of the many short comings of our government, I love my country and strive to do my part in making it a great nation.

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