A few weeks back while talking with my Dad about politics we got around to talking about how President Barack Obama was doing. While we both think there are things Obama could be doing better, we know there’s a long way to go in his presidency, and we are encouraged by many things he’s done. But the topic turned, as it often does in politics, as to why he, and many other politicians, never seem to do what they say they’re going to do once elected. Specifically with Obama and how he’s changed his tune on many of the civil liberties, Bush secrecy/openness issues he trumpeted during his campaign, as well as DOMA and DADT.
In that discussion and lately re-reading quite a bit about FDR, the depression, and the New Deal era changes that were put in place – especially this quote, “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it” – a couple of things came to mind:
- A tremendous amount of public pressure must be brought to bear on an elected official to get real change enacted.
- An elected official will always do as little as possible – take the safest course – in every situation if they perceive they can get away with it.
Our country was in really bad shape during the depression when FDR became president. My parents and grandparents have told me many stories of how tough things were back then. It was those struggling during the depression that exerted the pressure on FDR to enact the sweeping changes, “make him do it”, during the depression. The need of the people outweighed that of the corporations and their lobbyists back then.
The people have the power to enact change in our country, but only if they use it. If they don’t make their elected officials do what they said they would do, then the lobbyists – who get paid to influence our elected officials – will. So the question becomes, will the people that elected Obama, and the Democrats in Congress, make them do what they said they were going to do?
As a people, in the recent past, Americans elect their leaders and then many complain that the politician didn’t do what they said they were going to do when they campaigned. But the people , by and large, stop working/lobbying their elected officials once the election is over. And their elected officials stop listening, or maybe hearing from them is a better way to put it, once the election is over. But our electeds keep hearing and seeing the lobbyists, again whose job it is to be seen and heard, long after the election is over.
Whether because of laziness, scandal, celebrity news, family, friends, etc…something else grabs the attention of the people once the election, and swearing in, is over. And those left talking to, and influencing, our elected officials are those that are paid to do so. The people in America aren’t doing what’s needed for a democracy to flourish. While it’s easy, and safe, to blame an elected official for not keeping their word, we also must look at ourselves and see if we’re doing our duty as citizens to keep our democracy moving forward. It’s doubtful that the masses that turned out for Barack Obama last fall are still as engaged and are continuing that effort to make sure he follows through on health care, and many other issues.
One of the axioms my Dad often used to encourage me to work hard when I was growing up was, “You get out of it, what you put into it”. The same can be said about our participation in a democracy. If we only pay attention once it becomes September in an election year, just show up to vote,then fade away once the election is over, we shouldn’t be surprised when our elected officials only care what we think during that pre-election time span. An active, literate, and informed citizenry is needed for a democracy to survive and flourish. If our elected officials are not living up to their campaign promises it doesn’t just reflect badly on them, it also reflects badly on all of us. Because we are allowing them to do what’s safe, just enough to get reelected. To get our elected officials to follow through on their campaign promises the voters must follow through as well. And if they’re not doing what they said they would do, we’re only getting out, what we put in.
It’s also August and time to get back to work to get health insurance reform.
Go to Organizing for America for more information.
And you can find out the real facts and the truth about all the latest GOP lies on health care at HealthCareFactCheck.com.
Our President is ready to do what’s needed, now it’s time to back him up.