This Tuesday, Election Day, there will be no winners.
If the campaigns of our candidates are to be believed, Romney is a greedy liar whose policies will hurt the middle class, and Obama is an incompetent anti-capitalist who is undermining America with increased government dependence.
I believe both of them.
Neither candidate seems capable of reinvigorating the economy, reducing inequality, closing the deficit, paying for an entire generation to retire, improving America’s dismal education system; all while dealing with China, Russia, the Middle East and Europe’s continuing recession.
More importantly, neither Romney nor Obama will be able to bridge the partisan chasm that exists right now. Listen to any political pundit, newspaper, blogger, TV anchor – hell, listen to the candidates themselves. The way they, and we, talk about each other, talk about how the future of America belongs to one party or the other, meaning to one or the other half of Americans – this isn’t the United States we’re dealing with anymore. This is North and South. Yankees and Greybacks.
I love this country and wish that I believed that voting for one man or another, or for this or that policy would make a difference. But I don’t. I’ve tried to be a good citizen, to listen to the debates, be informed, follow the issues – but I can’t. It makes me sick. It makes me sad. It makes me feel like a little kid whose parents are yelling in the next room and the only thing they can do to make it stop is hide under the blanket and cover their ears.
Which I don’t intend to do. I will go out to the polls on Tuesday and wear a sticker that says ‘I voted’ and play my part in this democracy.
However, I do believe there is another way.
There is a much more important role that we individuals play, and it’s unrelated to who is president or which party is in power. A presidential election encourages us to discuss and evaluate what it means to be a citizen, an American, and a human being – but we don’t need politicians to implement those values for us. Once we’ve defined our values – hard work, social justice, entrepreneurship, patriotism, civil rights, or whatever else they may be – we can implement them ourselves, in our own lives.
Get educated, start at a non-profit, start a business, pray, donate, volunteer, promote ideas you support, think, create, share. Be the change Obama promised us.
This Tuesday, elect yourself.
Written for but unpublished on my school newspaper, hence the imperative tone.