In order to understand this “rant” better, the scene must first be set. I come from a small town in a relatively benign area of Michigan. I graduated with a small class of under one-hundred people, and can say for a fact that I am pretty proud of where I come from. That is I used to be able to say that. As I have watched the fairly liberal school I was thankfully taught in be turned into a wing of a church (figuratively speaking). I can’t help but think, “thank “god” I graduated before all of this happened!” As an educator myself it pains me to see that all of the new hires at my high school alma mater (I am not employed at my old high school for the record), are all strong Christians, and almost all from the same church. I believe in the separation of church and state as laid down by the constitution. This isn’t to say that you can’t have your faith and those morals (if honestly good morals) in the classroom, but this whole situation reeks of the opposite of separation of church and state. This brings me to the catalyst of my topic, my father. As we talked about this topic earlier, he mentioned how much he simply didn’t care about it. I know that all of his children have graduated and moved on, but how can he just stop caring about what goes on at his own doorstep? Let’s take a closer look, and bring some politics into the mix too!
My father is a pretty laid back guy; he goes and votes every four years, and will routinely vote no on millage increases for the school because he doesn’t want his taxes to go up. Talking politics with him is a huge pain. He believes whole heartily that it doesn’t matter who we vote into office because in the long run it doesn’t actually affect any of us. This is obviously a topic on which we cannot agree upon, so I won’t bore you with THAT argument. As I started to think more about it though, I came to realize that my father is part of the problem! Citizens of the United States simply have a problem caring. We are apathetic because the system is not working. However it is because we are apathetic that the system does not work. This is the definition of a vicious circle.
Without term limits being placed on senators, they just sit in power for untold amounts of years. This is why the constitution gave the people the power to vote on senators and representatives. If we are unhappy, we vote them out! The idea that someone could have that much power for 30 or 40 years is sick. I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans; it is still the same problem. This brings me right back to how little the voting populace cares about politics. With the approval rating of congress sitting right around the seventh ring of hell right now, we should see serious removal of hundreds of seats this year. Will we? Not a chance. It is hard enough to get people to care about the two people running for President, much less the different people running for all of the congressional seats. The system doesn’t work because we (not all of us obviously) honestly do not think our vote matters, or more people would go vote. The system doesn’t work because we don’t use the system the way it was designed to be used! We huff and we puff and we sputter back home to our comfy beds. I wish I had an honest answer for why we don’t vote everyone out and start fresh, but I have no statistics on it. No one wants to talk about it.
In 1960 63.1% of the voting population voted. In 1980 the number had fallen to 52.6%, and by the year 2000 only 51.3% voted in the general election. The numbers were slightly higher in 2008 at a whopping 56.8% (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html). Everyone complains, but only half of us even show up to vote. Out of those of us that do go and vote, I haven’t found (but would love to see) some statistics showing how many voted straight ticket. How many people don’t care enough to even look at the candidates’ names? How many of those that do look at the names actually looked into their senator’s backgrounds, or what they actually stand for? All I can do is assume that it is not very many.
Apathy will be the death of us. If we want the system to work for us instead of against us we have to make more informed decisions. Not just regarding the president, but the legislative branch as well. All they do is pass the laws and budgets that we like to complain about, so it might be worth a look to see if you’re voting for someone that even backs the same things you believe in! I would never tell someone to not go and vote, but seriously take some time and make sure you’re voting for the right people. So many people will cast a vote based on one thing, usually gun rights, abortion, taxes, etc, but by and large they vote for a candidate that doesn’t stand for them as a whole person. The same happens with congressmen, look at the whole candidate, not just one part. We cannot be like my father. He doesn’t care because he thinks the system is already too far gone, and if I ever get to that point, I hope someone talks some serious sense into me.
Imagine for a second (or for the next four years) that someone is sitting in the White House who has the voting record that Paul Ryan has. He claims that he is a fiscal conservative, but his votes say that he has only been one for the last four years, or just during the Obama presidency. He voted to extend the Bush era tax cuts through 2013 (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/). These tax cuts have already cost our nation 2.5 trillion dollars (http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/07/237560/10-years-bush-tax-cuts/?mobile=nc). Granted that amount of money wouldn’t solve the United States problems, but for someone who runs on the theory of trying to balance the budget this is a ridiculous thing to stand behind!
If we go further into his voting record, specifically during the Bush presidency, we can see that he had no trouble spending and borrowing money at that point. For example, he voted to extend the funding of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan every single time a bill was presented to him under the Bush presidency (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/). He voted yea on the automotive bailouts, but now decries them as a waste of money (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/). He believes that because they closed some plants in Wisconsin that the entire bailout was a waste of money (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/paul-ryan-explains-his-opposition-to-auto-bailout-revealing-inner-wonk/2012/08/16/9fe75174-e7d3-11e1-936a-b801f1abab19_blog.html). Never mind that three multibillion dollar American corporations were saved, just remember that the Chrysler plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin was shut down. I feel for the people that lost their jobs, but this comes down to simple politics. What he voted for during the Bush presidency (December 2008), he disagrees with during the Obama presidency.
Of course the list goes on. He voted in favor of the TARP program (another Bush era vote) and voted for the second economic stimulus (finally an Obama era vote for money)! None of this can be debated; it is all public record (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/). So to bring everything back to the main topic, Paul Ryan is a hypocrite of the worst kind. He votes with his party for purely political reason (as do many Democrats), but most importantly he claims to want to balance the budget, but where was that feeling during the Bush administration when a republican president was spending so much?
Now it is time to look at some of the spending that President Obama wanted to try to pass. He voted no for the Affordable Care Act, no for the a Small Business funding law, no on aid to states for Medicare and teacher employment, yes to REDUCE funding for the United States Institute of Peace, and perhaps the worst vote for someone pretending to balance the budget, he voted no for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/). Looks like it is okay to spend, spend, spend when there is a Republican in office, but not when there is a Democrat.
This is not the kind of man I want in the White House. Even if he is not running the show, as all of the pundits keep pointing out to us, he would still be in the President’s ear.