(The following was published in the Newsleader on October 9, 2009)
Regardless of your politics, you are probably not in the majority. Does that surprise you? This is the way it breaks down. At any given time approximately forty percent of Americans consider themselves Republican or conservative types with more traditional thinking, and another forty percent deem themselves Democrat with more liberal or progressive thinking. That leaves about twenty percent of Americans who might be considered independent or even apathetic. Some may see themselves as not political at all with no concern for the way government is run or by whom. Many of these do not even know where they are on the political scale. Many are Democrat or Republican because their parents are. Some continue the tradition of their families thinking. I am convinced that many many people, who profess a particular preference politically speaking, do not truly know what that party stands for.
Why is this important? What does it all mean to us? Consider this. When an individual decides to run for a partisan political office, they assume a forty percent support from their "base". That means if they are to be elected, they must pick up approximately eleven percent of the independent or apathetic others. In the vast majority of elections, those who are voted in are elected by a bare fifty percent of the electorate or less. The so called mandate some consider having is no mandate at all. Rarely do elections generate more than a fifty percent turnout.
Here is another thing to consider. When one of our political representatives says something like, "This is what the American people want", or "This is the way America sees this issue", what they are really saying is "This is what I think and probably the less than fifty percent of people who elected me think". As you can see from the numbers, no particular individual is in the majority. There are probably very few things on which a vast majority of Americans would agree. It also follows that when a politician offers a partisan opinion, he or she should count on up to sixty percent opposition to that opinion.
Today we are seeing partisanship being practiced to the detriment of our country as a whole. One party cannot stand the other party being successful because it might give them an advantage in the next election. It becomes clear then that most politicians want what is best for them, not necessarily what is best for the country.
Throughout the history of this great Republic we have made choices at elections and for the most part have made good decisions. On those few occasions when we have made less than stellar picks, we have corrected that decision in the next election. America is not going to disappear just because one particular party or another is in power regardless of their politics. We the people are in charge even though some politicians don't like it. Time and again in our history we have seen long time so called powerful politicians defeated at the polls when it is in the best interest of the country.
What remains a constant in America is this, there will be another election soon. If you are dissatisfied with the way things are, work to elect someone who will more reflect your thinking. If you are pleased with the direction of the country, work to retain those who govern as you desire. We all should let our elected representatives know what we think. Tell them when they do well and criticize them when they mess up. Another constant is this, the majority of Americans truly love their country regardless of their politics.
Ron Scarbro September 21, 2009
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