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We Have a Problem; We Have a Huge Problem!

by on September 4, 2012

September 4th, 2012 // 12:53 pm @

The recent energy and posts about my article on why it is important to vote once again reinforced that we have a seriously, lasting, structural problem in America. Almost everything about the election is promoting this same message, though few have recognized it.

We get all up in arms about this candidate or that, we emotionally buy in to one candidate and then label everyone else by which candidate they support, and we spend a lot of time actively engaged in politics. We blog, we argue, we discuss, we read, we talk politics to friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who will engage.

All of that is great. None of that is the problem. The more energy we give to politics in election years, the better (within the bounds of decency, of course).

No, the problem is that on November 7 most of this passion and behavior will stop. Oh, the most zealous participants in the 2012 election will still be griping or celebrating well into January, but within a about 100 days after the 2013 inauguration, no matter who wins, nearly all Americans will give little thought to politics for the next four years. A few will get involved again during the 2014 midterm election, but the large majority won’t. It won’t be polite anymore to discuss politics at dinner, and most people won’t.

So yes, Houston, we have a problem. As a nation of citizens we mostly ignore our government, a respectable few get excited during elections, and a lot get involved briefly in presidential elections. But we turn off our citizen-passion when elections are over and its time to govern.

And that is precisely the worst time to do it. During elections, candidates are much more likely to listen to the people, to care what the citizenry thinks. So if you’re going to take a break from politics, do it right now. Stay with me and let me tell you why.

The election will come and go, and the leaders of both parties and at all levels (national, state, county, and local) will listen to the people. Here’s the kicker: Then, when the people get back to ignoring politics, the dangerous time will begin. Politicians will focus on governing, and terrible policies that reduce our freedoms will be passed–month after month.

This is how freedom is lost.

The best-case scenario is for the citizens, at the least the vocal ones who care (and you can tell who they are right now during the election season), to be passionate, vocal and deeply involved during elections and also every day between elections.

That’s called citizenship. And it is the basis of all lasting freedom.

No elite group (politicians or a wealthy class or any other) is going to protect the freedom of the people as well as the people. And it doesn’t take 90-100% of the regular people, just about 10-20% who are passionate and vocal. Again, if you are one of those people right now in this election season, you are one of those we need between elections.

In fact, we need you even more between elections, and we need you to be even more vocal, passionate and daily involved than we do now.

“But right now, the politicians will listen, so isn’t this the most important time?” someone will ask.

Answer: Yes, this is a vital, an essential time to use influence while the leaders listen. But when the elections are over and the leaders stop listening, your influence and voice and focused participation will be even more, way more, necessary–because most people like you won’t be doing anything.

WE HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM, and it will begin in earnest on November 7, 2012. We need you to be part of the solution.

I’m not suggesting you do less during the election. I’m suggesting, in fact, that you give it your very best.

Then, starting November 7 and running for the next four years, America needs you to do even more–a lot more.

***********************************

Oliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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