Civics 101

February 7th, 2010 Comments

Constitution in the National ArchivesOK, I wasn’t a political science major in college, nor did I do particularly well in my social studies classes in high school – but I have learned a thing or two in the past few decades.  Especially in the area of teamwork and cooperation.  And if you knew me “back in the day,” you know that is saying a lot.

I learned many lessons when I first started sitting on various committees, advisory boards, and government regulatory boards.  I remember going in to those meetings and standing my ground for certain policies and procedures.  Sometimes I effectively made my points and the rest of the committee agreed.  Other times, I was unable to convince the others that I had a valid point and they shot down my ideas.  This is where I learned the most.

Leaving the meeting, I would talk to others about how terrible it was that the board voted something other than what I wanted.  I would grumble, gripe, and complain.  One day those words got back to a powerful member of one of the groups – and that person came to talk with me.  They explained that as a group, we worked together.  Before the vote, all ideas are valid, but after the vote, we all leave the room unified by the group’s decision.

I really had to think about this for awhile.  It didn’t make sense to me.  How could I maintain my independence, freedom of speech, and ideals, if I had to surrender my opinions to the power of the group.  After some thought, I came to agree with my mentor’s teaching.  I realized that if the board/committee/group/taskforce didn’t speak with unity, all of our decisions and policies would begin to lose momentum and eventually the group would lose credibility.  This level of fragmentation, while powerfully good on a micro-scale, ultimately will destroy the group on a macro-level.

National Hate Republicans DayThe same is true for local, regional, state, and national governments. While there is some value in arguing a particular issue (eg; healthcare, taxes, abortion laws, etc), ultimately, we, as citizens, must coalesce around a unified decision.  We cannot continue to argue points long after they have been decided.  Not only does this fragment the credibility of our nation, but it prevents us from moving forward into the future.  It literally ties us to our past.

We, as Americans, have created a government for the people, and by the people. We cannot point our fingers at “the Government” and blame “them” for our troubles.  For the government is us.  We, the people, are the government.  The fingers we are pointing, are directed towards the people we elected, the administrators we hire (via those elected leaders), and ourselves – the final hiring authority.

So, ultimately, it works like this:  We decide to have an election and various people are nominated and campaign.  Each candidate, and their election committees, promote themselves as the best person for that position.  Some are fiscal conservatives, others are social liberals, and some are moderates, and still some are on a course that is difficult to label.

We, the people, listen to their speeches, read their campaign material, and discuss the merits of who we believe would be the best person for the job.  In the end, on election day, someone is selected to fill the particular position (eg; mayor, county commissioner, library board member, senator, governor, etc).  This is the person, that WE, the people, have selected.

Now this is where my experience as an appointed committee member is applicable.  Before the election is the time to advocate our ideas, our candidate, and our values.  After the election, is when we come together in unity – no matter who won.  The decision has been made, and as a democracy, we have agreed to let the will of the people reign.

CrowdIf you’re not happy that your candidate, or party, didn’t win – then you need to look in the mirror and ask why? Don’t be a sore loser.  Jump on board, for the common good, and support the forward progress of our country.  This is what democracy is all about.

Can you imagine what would have happened if during that first Continental Congress, if the representatives, from the colonies, who didn’t agree with the direction of the Declaration of Independence, and later the Constitution, had continued to argue, debate, and complain? Most likely we wouldn’t have had 13 states – and later we would most likely not have had a united 50 states.  Instead, this area would be fragmented like Europe and the Middle East.

If you’re not happy with the numbers of people who vote, then work to fix that. It does little or no good to complain that a certain leader was elected with only 30% of the total population’s vote.  That 30% represents the majority of voters, who happened to vote – and those who didn’t vote have basically handed over their vote, in proxy, to those who are able to win a majority.

“Our inability to address long-term challenges makes a strong case that the United States now faces an era of historical decline. To change this story-line, we need to stop blaming the rascals we elect to office, and look instead to ourselves.”  Down With the People, Newsweek, Jacob Weisberg, Published Feb 5, 2010

This is how our system works. Be a team player.  Let’s work in unity, to make sure things happen.  Let’s not continue to block good – or even great ideas.  Even blocking mediocre ideas is ultimately detrimental to the forward progress of our culture.  Let’s work together and quit pointing fingers.

We are a government, by the people, and for the people.  The government is us.  Let’s take responsibility.

Comments

  1. Steve Moran says:

    Ok . . . so let me get this straight; what you are saying is that once someone has been elected that we have an obligation / duty to support their policies and ideas, no matter what? This would then mean that you supported and felt everyone should have supported the Bush tax cuts, The wars in the Middle East and so on.I am thinking that this is a bit of a one sided argument used by the party in power and their supporters to bully people into going along . . . . As I recall, Hilary Clinton made the case that opposition was important and patriotic using the term Loyal Opposition.

    1. gwalter says:

      Support, and debate, are two separate issues. I didn’t agree with the Iraq invasion and war, I didn’t agree with the tax cuts, but I was still supportive of our president, didn’t call him names, and didn’t degrade him to others. In fact, most of the time, I didn’t say a word about these issues unless I was with close friends in a friendly conversation. But either way, I still didn’t degrade, demean, or denigrate the people or policies they enacted.

  2. < would like to punch Bush in the mouth…iraq war was the dumbest thing ever…(and i was there)

    1. Steve Moran says:

      Ahh . . . that is support. Do you want to punch Obama in the mouth too, since he has not brought the troops home? Just wondering . . .

      1. No…and supporting a pres because he is a pres is ridiculous…any healthy democracy needs the political argument. Obama…nope…He is in a tight position now that we have got ourselves in so deep setting up the iraq/afghanistan governments. And no i'm no democrat lover either. I give him cudoos for trying but methinks he is in over his head and spending needs to stop quickly. As a soldier of 25 years i can personnally say its a waste of human life and huge dollars to be in iraq for a culture that will fall apart back into its old ways as soon as we leave…Its not bosnia…and thats my professional opinion

        1. Steve Moran says:

          Yep . . . . figured you would say that. My problem is I think Bush was a terrible president and I think Obama is a terrible present and interestingly enough for the same fundamental reasons. Going into Iraq may have been the right thing to do at the time (I am still undecided about that), but staying makes no sense. To much government spending and intrusion into our lives. I want a government who lets me make more of my own decisions and allows me to enjoy the fruits of my successes and my failures.These last two presidents, are both of the nanny state philosophy with a slightly different emphasis but loss of freedom the same result in both cases. I am thinking a year or two of that white global warming stuff in Washington would demonstrate how unless most of what goes on there is.All that being said. Bush was my president and Obama is now my president and because of that I have respect for the office. It would be a great privilege to meet either one of them.

          1. Well sure, i'm not gonna spit in the guys face but disagree with his politics and say i think he sucks…why not…thats the freedom i fought for and with out it we might as well be communist where if you don't agree with the government you go to the gulag. (an extreme but enough countries have done simular tactics)

          2. gwalter says:

            Way to bring that full circle Steve. (That’s my point – I think)

            Did either of you read this article that was linked in the post above?

            http://www.newsweek.com/id/233158

            .-= gwalter invites you to read this blog: ..31 Million Americans Unemployed =-.

          3. Yes, I read this Gary & agree with backing up once the decision is made…when the righteous rule. But, even Christ called a snake…a snake! Matt 3:7

          4. gwalter says:

            But, that was in reference to religious leaders. He also told His followers to render to Cesar, what was Cesar’s. He didn’t come to fight social injustices – and he left political debate alone. Those discussions would have derailed his mission.

        2. gwalter says:

          Spoken like a real enlisted man – but wait a minute… seems like someone told me that Warrant Officers get saluted by everyone – because of respect for the position.

    2. I did read it…and its to be expected when so many people are out of work and losing houses, I don't agree with growing the government-just making it work. Our military is the right size- just stop the deployments-yes that means a withdrawal of troops….lyes it will lead to total civil war and unrest…but hey…ITS NOT OUR COUNTRY (iraq). Stop throwing money at problems (because usually most of that money never makes it to the little guy who needs it the most). Yes, its a huge mess, partially made by government officials who have sitting on their butts….If something is too big, its very hard to run…ok, shutting up shutting up…D

      1. gwalter says:

        Yeah, most likely we need to learn the lessons of the French in Indo-China and pull out.

        My point in the article above, and my own post, is that “We” the people are in control of this country, and if we don’t like it, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

        If we don’t like who’s in office, we can’t blame the other guys – especially if we didn’t contribute any money, time, effort, or skin into getting the “right” person elected – whomever that might be – or changing the laws to get the right person in office – or recalling the wrong people….

        If we only point fingers, or say it sucks, then we’re not really contributing to the solution, not really doing anything but whining.

        (Not that any of you gentlemen are doing that – I’m just sayin)

        1. elect me….i'll order a pullout…faster than you can say boogey woogey bugle boy.

  3. While there is some value in arguing a particular issue (eg; healthcare, taxes, abortion laws, etc), ultimately, we, as citizens, must coalesce around a unified decision. We cannot continue to argue points long after they have been decided.

    I vehemently disagree with this statement. I will never quit arguing that abortion is murder. Never coalesce, unify or get behind no matter how my times it is rationalized or legalized or otherwised…

    As a Christian there are some things that cannot be accepted because they are morally wrong…period. Taxes are one thing, killing unborn children quite another. Kim
    .-= the inadvertent farmer invites you to read this blog: ..Chalkboard paint Craft To Do or Not Cabinet redo =-.

    1. gwalter says:

      But, is it possible to express one’s opinion, while still respecting the rights of others to disagree? Without resorting to name-calling, violence (verbal or physical), and whining?

      For instance, I don’t agree that abortion is a good tool either. However, short of a miracle, I don’t see where it will ever be outlawed. So, how do I reconcile my values with reality? For me – I try to pick my battles. And I practice the serenity prayer – a lot.

  4. Many, many things I can let go of because I know I have no influence to change. Somethings are just too egregious to let go of…

    I agree with the serenity prayer but I also firmly agree with the statement…Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

    I for one am not one for doing nothing…no matter how miraculous triumph would be. Kim

    My recent post Friday Funnies and the Shop Vac

  5. Many, many things I can let go of because I know I have no influence to change. Somethings are just too egregious to let go of…

    I agree with the serenity prayer but I also firmly agree with the statement…Evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

    I for one am not one for doing nothing…no matter how miraculous triumph would be. Kim

    My recent post Friday Funnies and the Shop Vac

  6. Don says:

    a Warrant officer is a highly trained, expert in a given field, mine happened to be aviation, test pilot, and primarily scout (find da injuns and Moyda dem-or run like hell and find someone with a bigger stick). We are not enlisted and yes, every enlisted soldier is supposed to salute our rank…whooopty doo lol. We have to pick our battles in life and can't fix every issue on the planet (yet) even though we do try at the detriment to our own country sometimes. What worries me most nowadays for the country is the mounting deficit that doesn't seem to be really fixing a whole lot. I believe in natural attrition in the market place….If the company was jacked up-it was probably meant to fall (AIG)…the government issue here is that we have allowed such companies to hold a monopoly on too much of our money and when they fall they take half the country with them. We don't need more government, just a hoe lot smarter government. 2 cents complete….waka waka

    1. Gary Walter says:

      Sometimes I think it is about the squeaky wheel. Quite possibly, our friends in Iraq (and other places) are squeaking more loudly than the unemployed and uninsured right now. Scaling back in our overseas conquests would allow us to pay off the deficit AND provide universal healthcare AND, quite possibly, bale out a few mortgage holders who are upside down.

      My recent post gwalter: Found paramedic exams in Roseville &amp; Stockton, CA – in 5 weeks. Time to get the groove on! #NREMT-P

    2. Gary Walter says:

      PS: I also have a lot of respect for your rank, service, and skilz flying around the bad-guys in Iraq. I only wish I could have flown with you a few times – especially over there (if I weren't married)!

      Being a paramedic in the fire service was a little like what you describe – except without the rank or respect. On the scene, we operated at the level of a LT or Captain, but in the firehouse, we were just another grunt.

      One of my accomplishments – but not without bloodshed – was helping paramedics to rise to the level of officer. Indeed, many fire chiefs today used to be paramedics.

      Do you miss it Don?

      My recent post The Emperor is Naked

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