Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
- Abraham Lincoln
One of the jobs of the President, it seems, is to inspire action. They are a celebrity-level change agent and – in many ways – become the hoped-for mouthpiece of the electorate. We want them to say aloud the things we cannot say. We want them to push change and shape the course of our nation in ways that are progressive, constructive, and powerful. At least… I’m assuming that’s what “we the people” want. I’m sure some would disagree.
We’ve entered a stage in our political growth rife with compeeting ideologies and highly divergent proposed responses to events and elements that will change not only our immediate experiences, but also the lives of future generations. Education. Violence (both domestic and international). Economics and finance. Food shortages. Climate change. Energy dependence.
In an age of Twitter feeds, social media platforms, YouTube, and all manner of memes, mock-ups, and political satire… it’s sometimes difficult to separate the message from the messenger–to distinguish the beliefs of an individual from the platform of a party. In some ways, it seems this will become increasingly difficult as the means of communication for office-holders become more varied and the expectation for nonstop commentary, engagement, and discussion increase.
And perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, the man (or perhaps one day woman) occuping the office of President is not, in fact, governing as an individual. He/she is a part of a greater system within which all manner of decisions are made and changes undertaken.
Despite this, however, I still personally find myself drawn to words of inspiration from the individual holding office. I like to know the person in that position of power and status has a greater purpose or a greater vision within which I can place some form of trust.
And I figure, the more each voter can learn about the office, the system, and the person seeking election… the more faith we can have in our collective decision-making. So consider this an encouragement to do your homework. Separate the indvidual from the machine. Consider the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts and special email messages carefully. Weigh that against a lifetime of choices, against offhanded comments, against speeches and press releases and impromptu moments.
Learn your history (and – ahem – 44 Plays for 44 Presidents is one of the most insanely fun history lessons ever) and consider the context of your choice.
And then go vote.