Political campaigns are in full swing, and these are just some of the thoughts I’ve been having as the time to vote gets closer. I’m sure there is much more to go into–and these thoughts aren’t likely to be anything “new”–but in the interest of time, I’m only going to highlight a few of the points.
Like anybody else, I have my concerns about the future of America. Some statistics (which are usually about as trustworthy as your average politician) say that Americans are falling behind in just about every major area–education, productivity, etc.,. Education is a big concern here in Baltimore. However, violence is one area in which America seems to be leading, and again, Baltimore is at the forefront. A truly “charming” city full of promise, one that rivals any other major city, it’s also plagued by one of the worst crime rates in America. Supposedly worse than New York, if you can imagine that.
Every year politicians claim they’re going to lower the crime rate, improve education, improve the relationship between the police and the people, improve housing and the job market, and every year–with few exceptions–it’s the same old same old. Where are the politicians that care beyond election day? When Shelia Dixon (Baltimore’s interim Mayor) addresses the issues, it’s usually a typical loop over and over again. She’s not responsible for this or that, she’s “working on” this or that. The outlines seem to be there, and yet crime in the city has gone up since she took over. The educational system is still in bad shape. Granted, she hasn’t had much time to prove herself as Mayor, but she exhibited the same reluctance to take responsibility before she took the office. I’d like to believe in her, but in such a situation, belief does not proceed results.
Back to the concern about America as a whole; one thing that worries me is the constant talk about the “fact” that America is not ready for a woman President (Hillary Clinton) or a black President (Obama Barack). Regardless of who I may vote for, I wonder if we as a country are so far behind that a person’s gender or ethnicity really still weighs so heavily as a factor when it comes to the well-being of the nation. After everything that this country has been through in the past few years, one would think that voting for the best person for the job would be at the forefront, not voting for the person that “makes [me] feel comfortable” or whom “[I’d] like to have a beer with”. Of course there are factions in this country that have their own ulterior agendas, but what about the majority?
True, human nature doesn’t change over night and politicians don’t work alone. The political campaigns are still popularity contests where charisma, looks, and money matter as much as (if not more than) ideas, strategy, and ideals. There are few politicians that can balance the two sides effectively. Usually, if a candidate is charismatic, he or she lacks substance; if they are strong on ideas and ideals, they lack social skills. Occasionally someone comes along that can wow the crowds and actually has a solid plan for improving the country for everyone, but they seem to be few and far between.
While I’m far from the gloom and doom type, I do think that as things move at a faster pace globally, Americans on the whole have to elect politicians that can help us make real progress at home and on the global stage, not make us stagnant–or even worse–throw us back into the dark ages. It may still be a field where one has to select the lesser of the evils, but voting (if our votes still truly matter) based on irrelevant issues has to be a thing of the past if America is going to remain relevant on the world’s stage.
Nancy O. Greene