by Matt Boltz
In the Work and Society blog posts I will cover a variety of topics, such as parenting, education, politics, culture, relationships, or anything else that I have thoughts or commentary on. I may link to an article I recently read that I found interesting or that needs to be refuted. I may have had a discussion with a friend or coworker where I learned something new or had my way of thinking challenged. I could also post about an experience I recently had that affected me in a positive or a negative way. Please continue reading below. Thank you.
The midterm elections are less than a month away. I have been spending some time the past few days reading my ballot information booklet and researching the candidates and issues that will be up for a vote in my state. This review has caused me to reflect on where we currently are as a society and where I would like to see us go in the future. The midterm process has also provided me an opportunity to assess my values and morals and to think about the many issues we have in this country and the world.
Some estimates have voter turnout in recent midterms at 40%. That means 60% of eligible voters chose not to participate for one reason or another. It's not my place to judge those people and in a lot of cases I don't necessarily blame them for choosing not to be a part of the process. Some of them feel their vote is worthless because their views and opinions will not be represented by the person their jurisdiction votes into office. Others are discouraged because they believe the "power elite" will continue to make decisions that increase the wealth and influence of the "power elite" on the backs of ordinary people. Even during recent presidential election years voter turnout has been estimated around 60%. However you interpret these numbers is up to you but it should at least make you wonder why so many people choose not to participate and if our current political system is meeting our needs as a populace. Has the experiment known as the "United States of America" run its course?
Elections are not just about selecting people to local, state, and federal offices but also about voting yes or no to amendments and propositions in your area. These issues are an attempt to solve a problem that legislators, organizations, or citizens have identified as needing to be addressed. Amendments and propositions offer a potential solution to a problem, ex. a tax increase to help fund education. Keep in mind when analyzing the issues on your ballot - are these the best solutions to the identified problem and could they cause negative impacts down the road if implemented? Most people I speak to want quality education for children, smooth roads, and beautiful parks in their community but they may disagree on the best ways to achieve them.
I hope people will take some time in the next couple of weeks to reflect on their personal beliefs about politics, society, and culture. We are told the two things we should never discuss are religion and politics. I say if you can approach these topics with an open mind and a willingness to hear the perspective of others then we should be talking about these things. Don't shy away from the tough questions and the big picture questions. Here are a few examples:
- Are elected officials acting in the interests of their constituents or themselves?
- Is the government (local, school district, state, federal, etc.) spending money efficiently before asking for a current tax increase (ex. raising income tax rates) or a future tax increase (ex. issuing a new bond)?
- Do you think the "ruling class" in our society takes advantage of a two party system where each side is so distracted with hating the other that the "ruling class" can get away with stealing our wealth while the two sides fight each other? If so, why do we tolerate this system and how do the people outside of the two parties factor into the equation?
- If I was in charge of organizing society would I have our current system? If not, what would my ideal economic and political system look like?
- Which economic and political system provides the most freedom and opportunity to the greatest amount of people? What is the justification (practical, ethical, etc.) for your choice?
- Is it moral that a 51% majority can tell a 49% minority what to do?
Good luck and get out there and vote. Or not. Like I said before it isn't my place to force my values onto other people. Either way try to use this election season as a way to challenge your views, learn why people have the views they do, and to share why you believe what you believe. Just make sure the dialogue is constructive. Stay away from Twitter and Facebook name-calling as that may not be the best way to win the battle of ideas.