The United States is a representative republic. Voters elect representatives they hope will promote their views regarding laws and the governing of our country. This process works best if the majority of its citizens understand the issues, are able to look beyond their own personal needs toward the greater good of all, and are able to select someone willing and capable of balancing the needs of individuals with the needs of local, state, and country.
The fly in the ointment for any democratic form of government becomes the citizens themselves, not the elected politicians. When the majority of the voting population doesn’t take responsibility for making informed and intelligent decisions before entering the voting booth, the politicians elected can inevitably be rascals of the worst sort.
When our nation was new, those who could legally vote were limited mostly to land-owning and tax-paying white males. Back then, each state had the right to determine who could vote or not. In 1868, the new Fourteenth Amendment stated that the federal government could determine voting rights. Today, most adults have the right to vote, and each has a duty to do so. Or do we?
Do we have a legal obligation to vote? No, there’s no law that says we do. As a citizen, we are required to obey laws, pay taxes, and serve in the military when called. Even those legal obligations are avoided by some. We have the right to enjoy the opportunity and freedom this country affords by accident of birth, naturalization, visa, or even if our status is not that of a legal resident.
I believe each of us should cast an informed, rational vote. I think even many that don’t vote would if they believed they could fully trust the candidate’s platform and personal character.
Most of us distrust politicians, especially those in higher offices, for good reason. I believe most people entering politics have good intentions, but the system is corrupted by influences from lobbyists and well-funded special interests, swaying the actions of those in office.
That is nothing new. The rich and powerful have always controlled the majority of the population, keeping us ignorant, in chaos, and fighting amongst themselves. They are doing a good job of it these days.
Our country was founded on the principle of all the citizens as a whole are in control of our government. Well, that didn’t last much longer than it took the ink to dry on the Constitution. As the states gave up more of their right to self-govern, more power was given to the federal government. Consolidation of power into a central government allows for easier corruption of the system.
How do we effectively halt this corruption? The founders of our country rebelled against being taxed without representation. They did it with muskets, bayonets, cannons, and the determination of free men. It should be obvious that we can no longer use force to rebel against tyranny.
We do have a weapon of great power. The wealthy and powerful fear a population that understands the power of the unity of our collective voice. A voice intoning a call to arms, by vote, by petition, by boycott, and marches. We have many examples of minority groups changing conditions over time by speaking with one voice to move an entire nation to accede to needed change.
If we want politicians that truly represent our needs, then we need to remove the influences of the wealthy, the powerful, and the lobbyist from the equation.
The only influence should be you.