Voting: Elementary Style
Remember in elementary school when all of us had the opportunity to pursue a Student Council office? How cool was that? These opportunities, to vie for a specific office and the possibility of making a difference in your school’s policies were the beginnings of so many people’s political careers. Nothing is more American in so many kids’ minds.
I was one of those kids. Each year between 4th and 6th grade, I would craft my speech to say something meaningful and hopeful to the student body, whom I dreamed would be writing my name on a ballot. My family would help me make posters to hang around the school and one year my mom even made me a red flannel coat of tails with gold buttons, just like one of our founding fathers might have worn!
WOW! I thought I was in, but when it came time to give speeches many of my competitors would make promises they couldn’t possibly keep.
Now, I know every political candidate makes promises. If you don’t make some promises, what reason do people have to vote for you? Your promises are what your entire platform is based on. But even in elementary school I became very suspicious of my fellow candidates when they began promising soda pop in the water fountains and shortened school days.
There was no way humanly possible they could have pulled that off—yet the other kids drank that Kool-Aid up like it was going out of style and their ballots reflected this.
Needless to say, I never became Student Body President of my elementary school and I hung up all hopes of even trying in Junior High and High School, taking an appointed position to Student Council my Senior Year.
I am beginning to realize now that those same kids who voted for “soda pop in the drinking fountain” were drawn into the same exciting (yet empty) promises that elected President Obama into office in 2008 and these same former kids will get the opportunity to vote for him again this November.
The difference in this political cycle is the realization that the “magical soda” never did get put into the drinking fountains–and many other promises Mr. Obama made during the 2008 campaign didn’t come true, either.
The amount of dissatisfaction over the past four years for the current administration is becoming overwhelmingly obvious. As of August 31, 2012, according to Rasmussen, 26% of those polled “strongly approve” of the President, yet 39% “strongly disapprove”. The President’s “Total Disapproval” rating is at 51%. In January 2009, Mr. Obama’s job performance had a 62% approval rating with voters.
During the Tuesday night schedule of the Republican National Convention a video entitled “Switchers” was shown to emphasize former Obama supporters coming to the decision that the “change” campaigned upon in 2008 didn’t happen and now they are creating their own “change” this election cycle by supporting the Romney/Ryan ticket.
These are not the only people who thought the promises made would be kept or that the ideas shared would truly bring about the “hope and change” they wanted and believed America needed.
Also sharing his “change” at the Republican National Convention was Artur Davis. Mr. Davis represented the Seventh District of Alabama as a Democrat from 2003-2010, in the House of Representatives. I was moved by his comment that “America is a land of second chances, and I gather you have room for the estimated 6 million of us who know we got it wrong in 2008 and who want to fix it”.
I appreciate the honesty of those whose hopes were not realized. No one likes to say they are wrong but so many individuals, who truly want our country to succeed, are stepping out and taking that responsibility.
Mr. Davis recalled the “plywood Greek columns and artificial smoke” found at the Democratic Convention he attended, that placed President Obama on the track to the White House. He said maybe Democrats should have known that things beginning with such scenery “wouldn’t have ended well.”
But then again, when kids vote for soda in the drinking fountains and shortened school days–being implemented by a 10 year old kid–they are beginning their unrealistic dreams of “hope and change” that truly are no different than those 2008 votes for Mr. Obama. The only difference is that they don’t have the experience to know those dreams weren’t possible or even more importantly, beneficial for them.
As adults, with our own children’s future in our hands this November, we need to yield from the temptation to vote for idealism and vote for realism. When a country is able to manage their most important issues with self-control and experience, even greater things have the potential to come to pass.
Voting for a president is an impassioned thing. We are only given the opportunity to speak our minds in this way every four years so it is understandable that our dreams are sometimes in the forefront of reality.
But if we relate our national economy to our personal economy, being more realistic is the only way to make real change possible. In terms of parenting, you can liken it to wanting to take your children on a weeklong vacation to Disneyland yet realizing you’re $40,000.00 in debt to credit cards. To take the trip would mean additional debt to the family—so the choice is pay off the debt and slowly save money for the trip–OR just jump deeper in debt and cause more problems for the family.