Notes From My Knapsack 10-8-15
My political position
We're heading into the Cuisinart phase of our national electoral process, with the purée setting coming next spring. My own political recipe is as follows:
1.) I think you should vote. I believe voting is a meaningful activity, both in a practical & symbolic fashion. The meaning you derive from it is directly in ratio to the amount of care & effort you put into making that act.
2.) I think you should be involved in your local political process. This is not just putting up yard signs. Go to school board or village council meetings, even when you don't have a fox in that particular hunt. Do some public service, whether electoral (running for office) or volunteer (serving on a municipal or district panel by appointment), or supportive (clean-ups, set-ups, voting official, or even just serving on a jury without whining about it).
3.) I think the more local the election, the more important your vote, and you should think and discuss and act with that in mind. I believe it is not anywhere nearly as significant whom you vote for in the presidential election as it is when you vote for village council, school board, county commissioner, or state representative and the like.
4.) I think you should pick a party, and speak up in it as well as through it. To some degree, I don't care which; with respect, much of what passes for "I'm an independent" is really just "I can't be bothered." There are honorable exceptions, and I'm always willing to believe you are one, but generally, I think we all know there is no perfect fit for anyone. Just decide on some key principals you adhere to, vote in a primary (that's all it takes to "join" a party anyhow), and find a way to express both where you agree, and where you disagree. GOP, Dem, Green, Democratic Socialist, Libertarian -- none of those will fit you perfectly, I'm certain. But pick one, and push it.
5.) I think kindness & compassion are political values that can be expressed through the body politic, within the commonweal. The fact that arguably neither are much in evidence now does not mean you can't try to find and affirm a path to those two values through the political process.
6.) We will not agree on the shortest path to those principals, even if you share #5 with me. But if we keep the end in mind, the way ahead can be seen, in outline, and we can get closer to those goals even by different lines of approach.
7.) Politically, I am by nature a Mugwump. I will often find myself with my mug on one side of a fence and my wump on the other. Shouts of RINO & DINO are not going to move me from my fencerow. Sometimes the view up here ain't bad.
8.) Much of what passes for political discourse in this great land of ours today is actually maneuvering & manipulation by those with and/or in power to hold onto it, or powerful forces with access to money & media to gain further benefit for themselves under the cover of claiming the public's benefit. When I or anyone else calls out such behavior, it is neither a repudiation of anything I said above in this list, nor is it even an absolute rejection of a particular candidate or party when implicated in such behavior. That possibility was anticipated by the prescient Mr. Madison in his checks & balances built into the foundation level of this country; and corruption, whether mild, venial, or comprehensive is not a sign that the entire American Experiment is failed. It just needs more variables controlled for before the next run, and that's what elections are for.
9.) If you get involved on a nuts & bolts basis in your community political life, you may be surprised what that activity does to your political positions. Sometimes, the view from close up is clearer than the perspective from your sofa. Get up and come see.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him your partisan non-negotiables at email@example.com, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.