The takeaway from Charlotte

Posted in Around The Nation, Election 2012 at 1:27 pm by wcnews

My takeaway from President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech last night was the challenge that he laid out to the country. We he talked about citizenship.

But we also believe in something called citizenship— a word at the very heart of our founding, at the very essence of our democracy; the idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another, and to future generations.

We believe that when a CEO pays his autoworkers enough to buy the cars that they build, the whole company does better.

We believe that when a family can no longer be tricked into signing a mortgage they can’t afford, that family is protected, but so is the value of other people’s homes, and so is the entire economy.

We believe that a little girl who’s offered an escape from poverty by a great teacher or a grant for college could become the founder of the next Google, or the scientist who cures cancer, or the President of the United States— and it’s in our power to give her that chance.

We know that churches and charities can often make more of a difference than a poverty program alone. We don’t want handouts for people who refuse to help themselves, and we don’t want bailouts for banks that break the rules. We don’t think government can solve all our problems. But we don’t think that government is the source of all our problems— any more than are welfare recipients, or corporations, or unions, or immigrants, or gays, or any other group we’re told to blame for our troubles.

Because we understand that this democracy is ours.

We, the people, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what’s in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.

As citizens, we understand that America is not about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us, together, through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government.

So you see, the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens— you were the change. [Emphasis added]

It made me think of a post from three years ago, You get out of it, what you put into it.

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.

No president or politician can get anything worthwhile done on their own. They need the people who want change to be informed, active, and involved. It’s time to get to work.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.