Monday, July 20, 2009

Some very vocal Americans want to “take their government back.” Some are on the political left. The left wing organization TOGB- Take our Government Back- is a group whose stated purpose is to “provide a means to curb, if not end, to the global destructiveness caused by multinational corporations and the politicians that support them.” TOBF is primarily concerned about the environment, global warming and pollution.

On the political right, you have citizens fed up with paying too much taxes, politicians not listening to them, and a national debt that has increased by over thirty percent since President Obama was inaugurated. These fiscal conservatives have taken to the streets at Tea Parties all across the country with the theme: TAKE OUR GOVERNMENT BACK.

In June 2007, during the Democrat Presidential primary campaign, President Obama delivered a speech in New Hampshire entitled, "Taking our Government back.” Obama quoted Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, in the speech, who said, "The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us, and therefore in public life, that man is the best representative, whose endeavor it is not to represent any special class or interest, but to represent all --by working for our common country." Trust me, the Roughrider wasn’t a socialist, so the “spin” Obama put on Teddy’s original message was far from accurate.

Who took our government from us in the first place? If we, as American citizens, have to “take it back,” then how did we lose it? The obvious answer is that political apathy and disinterest has placed America where she is now. We don’t like to blame ourselves, but it’s true.

A comic strip character named Pogo is credited with saying, "We have met the enemy and he is us." Leo Tolstoy, the famous Russian novelist said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Tolsoy was simply stating that real reform starts with individiuals taking ownership of their own behavior. What can the average American citizen do to “take back their government?”

First, we can take our government back by taking equity in our government. That can’t be done just by simply protesting on a street corner with a sign twice a year or yelling at the TV or the newspaper. Like an effective diet plan, taking our government back requires a complete “lifestyle” change. It means paying attention to what is going on with our government. It means attending town hall meetings, educating oneself on the political process by learning all the details of how people get elected. It involves staying engaged even in “off election” years. It means having to sit through some boring speeches instead of relaxing at home after work. It requires taking some of your hard earned money and investing it in good government by supporting a candidate with your same convictions. Adlai Stevenson, the liberal Democrat, was right when he said, “In a democracy, people get the government they deserve.” Americans have poor government because they allow/tolerate/empower poor government.

Second, we must start by recruiting “citizen” legislators and leaders who are willing to sacrifice a few years of their life helping lead our country. We have too many elected officials and politician types whose “life experiences” are completely within politics. They have never done anything other than politics. Elected officials should be in touch with their constituents. Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers will make the conversion to effective legislators, in spite of what the career political types say. What they may lack in political savvy will be more than compensated for in common sense and real world experience.

Third, Americans must recognize that changing government starts at the local level. Former Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil said, “All politics is local.” He correctly recognized that government is influenced from the bottom up. Too often, citizens focus on what is happening in Washington DC when they should be paying attention to what is happening right in their own back yard. Fewer people vote in municipal and school board elections than any others, yet these elected officials make decisions that impact our children’s lives and us. When people start taking equity in their local government, the federal government will be impacted. The influence will flow upward and we will get better government.

How many citizens will it take to “take back our government?’ The late Congressman Jack Kemp said, "The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society." It just takes one! Are you the one?


Jeremy Fair said...

Excellent post!

Lawton_Anime said...

"We have too many elected officials and politician types whose “life experiences” are completely within politics. They have never done anything other than politics... in spite of what the career political types say."

Very true Steve, which is why that myth that you must be a 'lawyer' in order to one day become a politician must be dismissed!

Oh you know also that... I mean I live in Lawton after all, home of political apathy, want to come over here and force feed this down the throats of our people here with me? :P

Steve Fair is a political activist. said...

Hang in there! Comanche County is changing- just not as fast as we would like to see.


Steve Fair is a political activist. said...
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