“To will is to select a goal, determine a course of action that will bring one to that goal, and then hold to that action till the goal is reached. The key is action.” ~ Michael Hanson
In today’s highly charged partisan climate, the last thing many of us want to do is take part in the political process. Contested campaigns where its difficult to tell the difference between hyperbolic rhetoric and legitimate facts do not create an inviting environment for the average citizen. In addition, expectations are created that are unrealistic and leave many of us disappointed when the realities of governance cause them to fall short. However, like the many other doors of life, it is vital we engage at some level in this process not only to further our own personal development, but to ensure a healthy, fully functioning society.
In order to truly exercise control over our lives we must understand and participate in the institutions that govern society. From city commissions to state and federal elected offices there are countless levels of authority in our lives. Most, if not all are vital to ensuring a safe, productive community. If we choose to ignore these factors, we are ensuring we have no say in what happens around us. We could wake up one day living in a society of limited freedom and no opportunity. So while it may be easier to get discouraged and become apathetic, in order to preserver our rights, we must exercise our responsibility to engage.
A common complaint leveled against our political system is the unresponsive nature of our elected officials. As long as we continue to live in a democracy and not a galactic empire we have the ability to address this issue. Ever politician, from the local to the federal level must win an election in order to serve in their positions. While thanks to Supreme Court decisions like Citizen’s United rich individuals are beginning to have a disproportionate influence on these contests, the final decision remains in the hands of the citizenry. In light of this fact, it is important to exercise our right to vote. If we fail to do so, we only perpetuate a system where our elected officials our beholden to the whims of a powerful minority.
Even if one chooses to ignore the influence political institutions have on our lives, there are still many reasons to participate in the process in some form. When it comes to politics there are a multitude of perspective and ideas exchanged for how things should be done. By participating in this dialogue one begins to realize that many things in life are not as cut and dry as they may initially seem. In addition, in order to convey these many ideas one must learn how to communicate effectively. These broader perspectives and skills can be applied towards success in every aspect of your lives, be it personal or professional.
Engaging in the political process is not only vital to finding our 50 doors, but is integral to the success and progress of a productive, well-rounded society. We must not allow our values and ideals to merely fade away due to discouragement and apathy. We must continue to hold our elected officials accountable by exercising our right to vote. Through this activism it is possible to gain the valuable skills necessary to adapt to a world full of both challenges and opportunities. After all the surest way to failure is inaction.