Worlds of imagination by Sara B. Gauldin
I try to stay away from politics. Sometimes I fail. I will fail today. I will not tell you who to vote for or against. This failure is somewhat deeper in scope and magnitude. Today I am reflecting on the marvelous idea that conceived the democracy that runs our country; such worthy principles that depend on dutiful citizens making conscientious decisions to choose from educated, principled and dedicated civil servants who have the best intentions of the governing body they seek to represent at heart. However, this statement reflects a multitude of problems that will only be resolved through careful education among the voting population.
Where did we go wrong? The majority of our countries problems are cultural in nature. I recently read an editorial published through CNN which cited a poll that collected data about the concerns citizens found the most pressing. There were many legitimate concerns, including the economy, and the jobless rate. I do not take anything away from these concerns. There is a larger problem facing our country, yet it goes unnoticed apart from those individuals who are “in the business.” The business I mention is education. Education is at the root of every major issue our nation faces, yet it is not a noted priority in the minds of the majority of citizens. The article goes on to mention that one in seven adults does not have the reading proficiency needed to read a newspaper article. As a school teacher and an author, I find this disturbing. As a citizen, I find this fact terrifying. We as a country have extended the right to vote to all citizens of legal age. In a world where equality struggles to Eek its way to the surface this is a remarkable thing. Yet we as a population sit in front of our collective televisions and watch political mudslinging that is ripe with jargon and rhetoric. We then send our most uneducated populace forward, fully brainwashed into voting for or against a given candidate. But what does the candidate really represent? And will that candidate act with the best interests of the population he or she represents in mind, or are they there to represent corporate America, the banking industry, or worse of all their own interests for money or power. How many of the voting public are voting blindly. Their rational for choosing a giving candidate may be as objective as pin the tail on the donkey, yet they defend the decision vehemently. Many voters cannot rationalize the choice they make with data, so they vote based on an emotional or moral appeal that may or not be founded.
The solution for this problem is not a simple one. The first step is to fully fund the education system that is now responsible for the only upbringing some children receive at all in these difficult times. Funding the system is not enough. An active media campaign which reinforces the crucial nature of receiving a proper education, that encourages reading and math, and which helps to impart to all citizens the raw importance an educated population represents needs to replace the mudslinging campaigns currently eating away at the judgment of the population like a cancer. Yes, I am supporting the use of propaganda. Advertising is everywhere; there is no reason not to use it to improve the quality of life in our nation.
Another key to improving the cultural and political climate in our country is to implement the equality that we purport to value. (Believe me when I say that I fully advocate equality in all situations, be they related to gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or any other designation.) By this I mean apply taxation to the population equally. I currently pay around one-third of my income to taxes. It would seem fair that all income levels should contribute an equal percentage or sales tax.
The welfare culture cannot be allowed to continue as it currently exists. There will always be elements of the population who need help. The elderly and the disabled should be upheld. Those individuals who are capable of working but choose not to should be required to not only apply and pursue education and employment, but also submit their time and energy for volunteer work. The middle class must earn their keep; the same should apply to those they support. Furthermore, the earned income tax credit should be thrown out. Nobody should revive more tax money back than they paid in as a refund. Rather than awarding tax money in this way, the funds should be returned to Social Security where they were “borrowed” from. Working class American’s paid into this program, it is not a welfare program, but an investment that should never have been put into a position to expire. By changing the expectation of the welfare coverage, and discouraging large family units to drive up welfare costs (perhaps by offering and encouraging use of contraceptives) our society will not continue encouraging the least able to provide for children and offer them the quality of life, they deserve to produce the most offspring to gain income and government benefits. As it is the 2012 census revealed that 21.8 percent of America’s children were living in poverty. Growing up in poverty has been proven to be detrimental to a child’s potential for academic and future success. We cannot buy these children a better future by blindly supporting their parents. We can attempt to change the culture and expectations of those we support through the process of making them into contributing and educated members of society in exchange for the support they receive.
Pet projects and riders on bills are ridiculous and should not be tolerated by the voting populace. A bill should be limited in length, and limited to one specific issue, not an assortment of odds and ends that were slipped in by corrupt politicians. If this plan were implemented, the government would free up billions of dollars that it can in turn utilize to make updates and improvements to our country’s infrastructure and in investments in sustainable and clean sources of renewable energy. Were we as a country to create the technology to power our own county, the need to tedious relationships and lingering and costly wars with oil producing companies would be eliminated. The ending of these give and take situations would ebb the flow of terrorists into our county and save billions more in military spending.
Of course, these changes will only be effective if our government decides to run. The entire concept of a government shutdown is ludicrous. Is our system so broken that it chooses to promote anarchy as a way to manipulate partisan opponents into capitulating rather than compromising? Apparently, that is the exact situation. Again, the voting population has been conned into believing that there is one (or the other) party that is supremely correct and the other is completely wrong. This is a far cry from the way the system was supposed to work. Democracy is designed to work as a system of checks and balances. There have always been parties that represented extreme ideology. There have traditionally been some legislators who fell somewhere in the middle and who served as a voice of reason and compromise between the parties. Over the last twenty years, the media influencing and intimidating voters has led to both parties electing the most extreme among their constituents. These exaggerated opposites have thrown away the hope for reasonable compromise and common sense decision. They bleed money from the system they have sworn to uphold. They focus on pet projects for their own political or financial gain. They allow government shutdown to go unchecked and balance the cost on the backs and economic misfortunes of their largest and most strained tax base, the middle class. This political jockeying cannot be allowed to go one no matter what noble principles they believe they are upholding. The voters (tricked or not) elected them to do a job. The responsibility to represent voters and to SERVE our nation’s government was once viewed as a temporary and noble calling. Now this short term appointment has become a long-term career for those who refuse to do their jobs at all. We as the American people have no choice in this. We are presented with options chosen by a polarized party that only chooses more of the same extremes. Sadly, most voters never hear what these candidates actually stand for or believe. Their voices (if they have any) are lost in the mudslinging of the campaign. Even if a reasonable candidate somehow becomes elected, their contribution is often lost in the partisan jockeying for power. The interests of the people and the reasonableness of a given decision is quickly left behind under the din of the broken machine that is now our government.
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