Cancel Popular Politics
I remember becoming interested in politics, along with the reality that politics is a full contact sport, in Junior-High School when Ronald Reagan was president.
I loved Ronald Reagan because he was Pro-American, Pro-Small Business, Pro-State’s Rights, and he had astounding charisma and sense of humor. America loved him because he did not simply use the Presidency to guide the American people – among other things, he let the American people guide his Presidency.
As a republican, Reagan was President when Tip O’Neill, a Democrat from Massachusetts, was Speaker of the House of Representatives. They battled on policy as is required of politicians, but they never saw each other as enemies or adversaries.
Reagan and O’Neill both loved America first, and both compromised and worked out issues for the good of the country. Were either of them perfect? Certainly, they weren’t. But, were their intentions sound and their civility a good example for the citizenry? You bet!
During this time when I was figuring out what politics is, how it works, and what it does (… I still don’t think the Govt. knows what it does most of the time!) I noticed that the more I learned about politics, the more I realized how so few in the electorate cared to inform themselves.
Ronald Reagan was a great President in my opinion. Many people loved his attitude, his spirit, and his willingness to lead. But the best part about him was that, beyond policy, he encouraged people to focus on their state and local government, not the federal government — herein lies what I think has become a very modern issue.
Ever since Reagan, the Presidency has become more and more popular. Popular Politics is centralized and hyper-focused on by the media. Often that focus is fueled by scandal, perversion of truth, and misinformation which sells advertisements, polarizes us, and generates massive activity on social media. None of this is good for us, though.
As I have four kids of my own, ages 22-25, I am encouraged to see them engage with their friends in political discourse. I am encouraged to see them interested in policies that affect their future and find leaders that they want to support. I love that my four kids, all raised the same way, have differing political views. I love that our younger generations are becoming more engaged.
However, my fear is that these younger generations are so caught up in the popularity of national politics and receive much of their information in sound bites that they lack depth of policy understanding and are moving away from what our founders intended in strong local and state government.
Local politics don’t sell ads!
I long to see the day where we can return our focus to what matters: those immediately around us. The President of the United States, no matter how great or how powerful, cannot save you. Your United States Senator cannot save you. Your U.S. Congressperson (though they can help immensely more) cannot save you either. Your family, your community, your town, your city, your brothers and sisters, and your community leaders are the ones that help create REAL change in a world where it is so desperately needed.
Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
We certainly need a strong central government for defense, fiscal policy, international relations and hosts of other reasons. We also need great leaders to run that government. But, when those civil servants become celebrities, when our media hyper-focuses on their every utterance, and when our electorate gets their political beliefs from soundbites and tweets, we get what we have today.
When we forget that politics is local, forget that our founders intended strong local governments, forget the media is not supposed to be entertainment or biased, and forget that honest and civil face-to-face discourse can never be replaced by 124 characters spun out behind a smartphone’s keyboard, then we get what we have today.
There is plenty of blame to go around – all ages, races, and political parties have culpability. Politicians are not meant to be rockstars – they are to be servants. The federal government isn’t meant to make everything perfect for everybody; it’s meant to provide a safe place for local communities to have an opportunity to serve their neighbors for the common good.
The popularity of national politics, the popularity of the people in national politics, and the never-ending feed of incomplete and often inaccurate soundbites that fuel the frenzy are just bad for all of our lives.