There are many characteristics that bind us as a people, but in recent years I have seen one rise dramatically in prevalence: apathy. Faced by numerous problems of vast import on local, state, and national levels, we prefer to give in and give up. Rather than fighting for an ideal, we “go along to get along."
Such an attitude towards participatory politics is not new; many of our ancestors faced problems of their own by admitting defeat and capitulating. Perhaps unintentionally, this apathetic attitude has been transmitted from one generation to the next, with each generation successively becoming more disinterested and disenchanted.
As government has grown in size, an individual’s influence decreases. Those who do write their representatives are answered by form letters drafted by secretaries. Those who wish to jump into the fray and get involved are bewildered by how many problems exist and how little they can do to affect change.
In our generation, we’ve been taught a few key principles that have engendered a continued sense of apathy and enlarged the disconnect between politicians and their constituents. Let’s review a few of the more notable ones:
Vote for the lesser of two evils.
Party loyalty has taken the place of American patriotism. Eager to implement the party’s agenda throughout the nation, voters are encouraged to vote for their party’s candidate, regardless of any apparent problems he (or she) may have. Surely we must not throw away our vote on a third party candidate or a write-in! We don’t want the other guy to win, do we?
And so, we are counseled to cast our vote along party lines, regardless of which candidate is anointed by the delegates to represent them. What’s that, you say? You disagree with most of the candidate’s platform? Well, that doesn’t matter… Better him than the other party’s candidate, right?
One person can’t make a difference.
You’re only one person among millions – what difference could you possibly make? With the Electoral College determining the actual vote, your vote doesn’t matter much. So why vote? Why get involved?
The role of the individual is frequently minimized in our media-saturated culture. Rarely will you hear inspiring stories on the news about the impact a “normal citizen” has made. Unless you’re rich or famous, you’re led to believe that you have no role to play with “the big boys."
You’ve got better things to worry about than politics.
Seriously, who wants to follow the news and think about politics all day? And it moves so quickly that you can’t just casually be updated once in a while. So why bother? You’ve got bills to pay, meetings to attend, and sports games to watch.
It seems that we’ve all been taught to leave politics to the politicians. We’ve outsourced “we the people” to “they the legislators," trusting that they will do no wrong.
A cure for our apathy
The best solution for curing apathy is often a situation that offers hope, an avenue to make one’s voice heard, and an opportunity to participate. That solution is offered by Dr. Ron Paul, Republican presidential candidate.
While his opponents are busy attracting voting blocs within their party, Paul is attracting Americans. Be they from the left or right, apathetic or involved, supporters are signing up in droves to jump on the bandwagon a vehicle finally offered them to make a difference.
Many of Paul’s supporters are themselves once-apathetic individuals who have never voted in a presidential election. Disillusioned by the corruption and self-serving in Washington, these people had long since given up on participatory politics. But then they found Ron Paul, and have latched onto a very unique opportunity at fighting for the Constitution, for liberty, and for small government.
The cure for apathy is not top-down instruction from some so-called leader, instructing his followers on what to do and how to do it. This creates nothing more than brainless peons. No, the real cure for apathy is speaking truth to power, inspiring the masses, and giving them the ability to innovate and participate.
Ron Paul, a doctor by profession, is today’s cure for political apathy. A simple list of his accomplishments and notables shows how he stands out from the crowd. And unlike practical politicians that change their tune with every shift in the wind, Paul is consistent, saying the same thing today as he did thirty years ago.
He can cure your apathy, too. Don’t believe me? Set aside an hour to watch this video, and you’ll find yourself inspired, motivated, and amazed that principled politicians are not yet an extinct species. Even if you disagree with some of his views, you can’t help but respect a man who is consistent and devoted to principle.
It’s because of apathy and indifference, America, that we’ve allowed such corruption and power-grabbing to persist. If we’re to ensure that the Constitution remains intact and the rule of law respected, we must find a way to overcome our apathy.
December 13, 2007