Machele, and I, spent last Saturday at Trader’s World, in Monroe, collecting signatures for ballot access. 329 signatures, in 8 hours, is pretty encouraging. More encouraging, is the enthusiasm individuals show, when they come to understand that I’m running as an independent. It’s inspiring to have a young man look me in the eye, shake my hand, and sincerely thank me.
Less inspiring were the handful of individuals who couldn’t be bothered for a few seconds, to consider signing a petition. It’s not that I mind someone telling me no. If, after asking some ideological question, one decides they would rather not help me get on the ballot, I can accept that. They made an informed choice. One gentleman said to me, as he walked quickly, not making eye contact, “I try not to get into politics.”. I didn’t engage him; couldn’t actually; he obviously didn’t want to talk with me. But, here is my response to that individual, and all who “don’t get into politics”.
If you don’t get into politics, what is your strategy for preventing politics from getting to you?
That is, of course, a rhetorical question. It is not possible to prevent politics from getting to us. However, thanks to the brilliance of the founders, we CAN control, what kind of politics gets to us, and in what amount. At least, we could, when we took our Constitution seriously. The power to control what kind of politics gets to us still exists, we just don’t apply it. It exists, for now. But, if we don’t start applying it soon, the power will be gone, for a very long time.
It is foolish of us to think that the politicians, we habitually send and resend to the seats of government would, after making a career of it, still abide by their oath to “support and defend” the Constitution. It is, after all, the only limiting force upon their power. Protecting the Constitution is our job. We often blame those politicians for the condition of government, when, in fact, the blame lies with us.
The Constitution protects us from federal intrusion, by limiting the areas in which it can influence our lives, but only if we the people enforce it? This is why the parties continue to create the illusion that they are acting on our behalf, and the reason for pulling us so far apart on the ideological scale. As long as we are far apart, and equally divided, they only have to contend with half of us, while the other half defend them. The wide ideological space between us prevents us from communicating with each other at a tone that is conducive to listening. We are shouting at one another, across a busy highway, when we should be talking to each other, across the kitchen table.
If we were to take the time to talk, we would likely discover that a vast majority of us actually agree on a many of the things we’ve been lead to believe we disagree. And, here is the secret they don’t want you to know: The areas in which we disagree; federal government has no constitutional authority to address. State and local governments certainly do, and we have greater control over them. But, our federal government was constituted to do just a few things, and to do them well. If it stuck to those things, it would be far less expensive and dysfunctional than it is today.
As long as we have a Constitution, I believe it is possible for the people to control government again! But, it will require work. Hard work, by a relative few (those who run for office), and a little easy work by everyone else (learning to research your candidates). It won’t happen by electing ‘new’ Republicans, or ‘new’ Democrats, in the primaries. It won’t happen by creating a new party. It will happen when Americans stop letting the initial next to the name determine their choice on election day. It will happen when we understand that protecting our own freedom means protecting our neighbor’s freedom, even if we disapprove of how they use it. When we understand that we can influence the behavior of those around us without making laws, simply by behaving ourselves in ways that inspire them, we can stop looking for candidates who promise to use the force of government to make America in our image and start looking for the few who will protect freedom for all.