OPINION –We’ve just seen the excitement and passion that typically accompanies a major concert or sporting event. Now imagine people becoming that engaged in things that actually matter.
Why is it so easy to devote time and energy to supporting our favorite performers or teams, but so hard to participate in our own governance?
A growing societal preference for short-term gratification has displaced the long-term value of active participation in ruling ourselves.
After generations of abundance, we’ve become spoiled, complacent, and apathetic. The next stop on this historical cycle is a type of bondage where the vast majority of us will be little more than serfs of whatever state rules us.
Voting is not enough to turn the tide in our favor.
It’s no secret that voter turnout has been declining for some time. During the 1980s, Utah was among the top 10 states in voter participation. In the past 6 years, it has fallen to the bottom 5. Even the backers of the Count My Vote initiative cite low voter involvement as a pretext for their efforts.
We do see an increase in manufactured hype whenever an election rolls around. But for the most part, the nonvoters outnumber the voters.
In some ways, it’s understandable that this apathy toward citizenship and participating in our governance would have set in. The amount of time and energy required is high. Having a real depth of understanding about complex issues requires that we do our homework.
Even those who would step up to run for office have to face an unpleasant fact; at the heart of most politics is the premise of violence.
No matter how we may camouflage it in legalistic language or patriotic terms, politics is the mechanism that allows government to coercively take money from people against their will. It is the means of forcing others to do our bidding.
Principled individuals approach political office with a degree of apprehension and a willingness to set aside their own desires for their term of office. But opportunists and power seekers thrill at the prospect of exercising dominion over others.
This is why principled leadership is essential to keep government limited and acting as a servant rather than a master of the people. Unfortunately, the promise of power is an irresistible attractant to the unprincipled and the corrupt. To them, politics spells control.
They know that one of the most effective methods of establishing totalitarian control over a society is to politicize everything.
We sometimes forget that our lives consist of many associations that are above the realm of politics. Family, business, community, media, academia, and church are prime examples. When we see these institutions becoming politicized, it’s an indicator that the power seekers are in full expansionist mode.
Breaking out of the societal apathy that feeds their power requires action.
Some may choose to withdraw their consent by refusing to participate in politics at any level. Joseph Sobran described abstaining from voting as a point of pride and honor rather than a dereliction of duty.
Regarding the corrupted state, he wrote: “It can force us to pay taxes, to support its wars, to observe its myriad petty rules, but it can’t (yet) force us to vote.”
Sobran’s admonition to stop voting makes more sense at the federal or state level than it does on a local level. This is because participation in our neighborhood caucuses remains a viable means of influencing our governance. But the corrupting influence of big money and lobbying increases exponentially the further we move up the political hierarchy.
Refusing to legitimize a corrupted system is only a partial escape. We must also break free intellectually.
We can choose to ignore the lapdog media who serve as government stenographers rather than actual journalists. This doesn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand; it means that we stop giving credibility to the political idolatry and theatrics that epitomize mainstream news.
This frees us to improve our understanding of the world on our own terms and not according to someone else’s agenda.
Becoming informed is easier than ever, once we’ve honed our abilities to think critically and independently. This doesn’t require specialized credentials. It means turning off the TV and making time daily to deeply study the issues we wish to understand.
How well we comprehend what we study is more important than the number of pages we read. In this sense, information is power.
When we choose to free our minds, our lives will naturally follow. Better still, our ability to influence others out of their apathy is magnified.
Political solutions can get us fired up for a party, a policy, or a candidate, but they cannot break us out of societal bondage. Understanding sound principles and actively living them without compromise is the only way to accomplish that.
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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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