Itís no secret our democracy is in the midst of tough times. More than half of our voters generally do not vote and many who do vote are so extreme it provokes complete polarization. Civil discourse has gone out the window, replaced by vitriolic rhetoric.
Winning at any cost is the name of the game. Dark money in the billions floats around each election and character assassination is at the top of the list for good political strategy.
Our political parties have become entrenched in hard core ideology. Independent thinking is discouraged and candidates and party members who do not toe the line are penalized.
Our politics have become so partisan and so toxic we are no longer able to legislate for the positive good of the people. Instead of good legislation we go from one set of executive orders to another set with each new president.
How do we save our democracy? First letís remind ourselves what democracy is all about. Itís a government for the people with the core value of equality and respect for each person. Many brave souls long ago fought and died for our right to have a democratic government with representation for all. They gave us the gift of voting and along with that, the right to choose our leadership and our government.
The right to vote is a wonderful privilege. We must not take it for granted and we must not ignore it. To do so is to plant the seeds of democratic destruction. For the health of our nation we must be good political stewards and assume the responsibility of educated voting. Itís not just our elected officials that have the political responsibility for our government.
Voters too must assume accountability and leadership. It is our job to elect the best candidates, who have the best leadership skills and talent for the position they are running.
As voters we should reach out and get to know the candidates. There are many resources available. In Idaho it is easy to meet the candidates. A good conversation is invaluable. Remember being a candidate is hard work and a little bit of respect and appreciation from a voter goes a long way. We have spent so much time in the last few decades castigating the ďgovernmentĒ and criticizing the ďpoliticiansĒ that we have forgotten that there are many really good elected public servants and that ďweĒ are the government.
Given how voters sometimes treat candidates, I am surprised that we can still find quality candidates who are honestly committed to public service.
This election we have many qualified candidates on all sides. Letís think like Idahoans: with rugged individualism and independent thinking. If you are affiliated with one party and find a better qualified candidate in the other party. Be brave. Vote for the best candidate regardless of party.
If you havenít been voting, I urge you to do so. Our democracy is worth the little bit of time it will take to educate yourself and to vote.