Monday, November 29, 2021

Political Disillusionment

businessman panic head hand, illness and medicine. Pop art retro vector illustration

It is no wonder that our citizens across this great nation are somewhat disillusioned with the politics of our times, not knowing what to believe when they turn on their radios, what they hear on TV, or what they read in the papers.

The tone and demeanor of the candidates and the slick political operatives who make millions by managing those candidates contribute to the disillusionment. Then there are those that go to work for the elected officials who have successfully acquired the office they sought, looking to leverage their time inside the circle of power by writing tell-all books that may be far from accurate.

It is no wonder that the public fails to believe in the process any longer, and looks with skepticism on those that seek and even hold office in government. The skepticism is felt throughout the various levels of government, from the very smallest of villages to the highest offices in the land.

The main reasons for cynicism today revolve around power and money. Of course, the issue of ego plays another major role in the inherent downfall of many who seek and abuse power.

Voters themselves have begun to feel like an afterthought in the political process, and maybe their disappointment with that process has become well-founded. The voter is tired of the same old excuses as to why those they elect don’t seem to be able to get anything done.

The influence of money on all levels of government appears to be more of a factor as each year passes. The spending in the 2020 presidential race may reach a staggering $11 billion. Funding for congressional and gubernatorial races is also spiraling out of control.

What are donors expecting in return for their donations? One would have to be naive to believe big donors don’t expect something in return for the dollars donated. Access to the successful candidate obviously is the minimal expectation after the close of the election cycle.

Our Founding Fathers never envisioned a professional “ruling class,” but it appears we are drifting in that direction. Senators and House members at the federal level have become permanent fixtures. As an example, John Dingell, Jr., of Michigan served 59 years in the House of Representatives before retiring in 2019. Ted Kennedy had served almost 47 years as a Senator before dying while in office. The founders of the United States envisioned citizen legislators, not professional politicians, and we as citizens can help fulfill that vision by demanding term limits on the federal level.

We have even begun to tarnish the roles of men and women who seek to serve in elected office on the local levels of government. The fact that tens of thousands of dollars will be spent to fund the election of entry-level politicians in offices such as that of a village or town councilor is ridiculous. All that information is a matter of public record, and one might start to investigate sources—where how much and what is being expected as a result of those dollars being donated. 

From the grassroots to the federal level, Americans are becoming disenchanted with the idea that our government may be for sale, not necessarily to foreign powers, but instead to powerful interests right here at home. Citizens must become more involved with what is going on in their own backyards. They must become better educated about topics and delve deeper into the backgrounds of those seeking election. They also should ask questions before supporting subjects coming before our community leaders, and not take at face value slick presentations and finely tuned speeches seeking our support.

Americans, including Marco citizens, must be prepared to take back control of the narrative about what is important to them, and not let outside forces control the sequence of events. 

22 years ago, Marco Islanders said they wanted to have more of a voice in deciding their destiny as a community. This led to the formation of our city. It was an important decision, and it was not taken lightly, for the future of the island and many aspects of how our community will be seen by future generations could very well be at stake.

We all need to work harder to ensure our voices are not diminished because we choose not to become engaged regarding important issues. We cannot expect others to carry the heavy load of responsibility for our future, for it is the responsibility of us all if our communities and our nation are to continue to thrive and prosper in the future.

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