I am an idealist. I fully and readily accept that about myself. I wear rose colored glasses; I see the glass half full, I try to always assume the best of folks until they prove me wrong, I believe we are good people at heart, all of us.
I love my family, I love family of faith, I love my country, and do as best I can to make my corner of the world a little better. I hope in some way, when my journey of life ends, someone might say in some small way I left my piece of this good green earth a little better than when I found it.
I have been interested in politics for some time. As I look back on my life I think it is a sprouted seed planted by a history and government teacher I had in high school. When I first started back to school after I reached the age of thirty I had some sense of aspiration to a political life of some kind; public service, elected office, or assisting someone who held office or was running.
I did not ever pursue a career in politics other than a five year stint on the local school board in the community where I served the United Methodist Church as their pastor. I am still committed to public service and making this world a better place to live, I just think I was better suited to the ministry than to politics, which is why I write this now.
I listen to the news stations, though I confess I do not listen as much as I used to because it is hard to stay idealistic listening to any of them. It seems to me they have all bought into a culture of fear and dread. Each of them telling us who, what, when, where, how, we should be afraid. Some of the commentators say we should be afraid of the Republicans, some say we should be afraid of the Democrats. Some commentators say we should be afraid of the terrorists, Muslims, Christians, and the lists go on and on. A sad commentary, I believe, on what our sensationalist news has become.
I listen to the rhetoric of the politicians, each of them, regardless of their party affiliation, claiming to speak for the American people, claiming to know what the American people want, and why they are or are not frustrated. And I have yet to hear a politician express why I, and many I speak with, are frustrated save one.
Last night in his State of the Union Address President Obama made the statement, “What frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day.” This is exactly what frustrates me! In fact just a few months ago I was visiting with a friend who said, “Unless he [President Obama] changes his policies he will be a one term president.” From my point of view that would be unfortunate, and at the same time, that should not be the reason one does what they do in political office.
We elect our officials to do what is best for our country. We do not elect our official so they can get be a more than “one term” official. I expect my elected officials to make the difficult decisions that need to be made to make our lives, our country, safe, equitable, just, and free. I do not expect my elected officials to worry about whether or not they are going to be re-elected or not.
I see it when I watch the votes on bills and the vote is divided precisely on the party line. You can’t tell me that no democrat sees any good in a republican bill or that no republican sees any good in a democratic bill. When I see that, I presume that those voting are more worried about appearances than they are about doing the right thing.
Sometimes politicians look like a group of third graders on the playground arguing about who gets to pick first in the dodge ball game. Finger pointing, he did this, she said that. Rather than sitting down at the table and getting the work done to make our country great it seems politicians are more committed to making the other look bad than they are in doing what is right for our country and all of us. There are times when I just want to sit them all down and say, “Grow up!”
I am a democrat, I was raised by parents who were democrats, I identify my party here because I want to acknowledge my biases. However, I have never voted party line. I have always voted for who I thought had the best interest of our country at heart regardless of their party affiliation. My frustration knows no boundary when it comes to party. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike are equally guilty of the pettiness of this game.
All this being said I still refuse to relinquish my rose colored glasses or my idealism. I believe in our country, I believe in the human spirit, I believe that justice, mercy, and humility will prevail, I believe in a hope that drives us all. Just because it seems to have been derailed for a time, paused, detoured, these values will one day bring us back. I pray one day those who we elect will return to these values, will regain the priority of serving the country they love rather than themselves. Until then, I will pray, I will continue to persevere in making my corner of the country, the world, a little better place. I hope you will pray for these things too.