“The system is so broken and I don’t see anyone who I think will actually fix it,” a retired friend of the family said to me this past weekend. “I’m staying out of it this election season.”
I have heard that sentiment expressed more times than I can count these past few months. Activists who were once politically engaged have begun to feel powerless. Voters who were geared up to fight the 2012 battle became disenchanted when their candidates of choice decided not to give it a go. Conservatives disgusted with the business-as-usual establishment have started to believe that the kind of reform that is needed just isn’t going to happen due to an absence of principled leadership.
I have seen a fair share of people grow increasingly dissatisfied with our 2012 options, increasingly distrustful of leaders they once helped to get elected, and increasingly pessimistic about the ability to change a machine saturated with corruption, selfish interests, and politicians who are in politics for all the wrong reasons.
Combine that with a 9% unemployment rate and a President who repeatedly affirms his status as far-left ideologue via policy decisions that inhibit our country’s economic recovery, and it certainly isn’t hard to understand the pessimism some feel.
This country is in trouble. Big trouble. And there is no easy solution. There is no quick fix.
Paul Ryan highlighted some disturbing realities in his recent speech at The Claremont Institute, including that “6.3 million people fell below the poverty level in the President’s first two years,” “There are more than 6 million Americans who have been out of work for over 6 months,” and “This administration imposed 3,503 new regulations in 2009, and 3,573 in 2010 – 68 a week.”
There is nothing uplifting about that news. Much like many of you, I struggle to find politicians whom I trust will do what needs to be done, regardless of the impact it may have on their political futures and reelection campaigns.
In other words, I understand your sentiments. It’s not easy to stay optimistic and engaged when you’re not terribly confident in the leaders you’re electing and when you are even less confident in the machine you are sending them into.
So, let me tell you what I do when that happens.
First, I take a look around me at the things I treasure so deeply in my life—my family, my best friends, my pets, the memory of those who are no longer beside me but enriched my life more than they will ever know. Those people give me strength. It is my desire to preserve everything I love about this country for them—especially for the little ones who have so much of their lives ahead of them—that gives me a newfound spring in my writing and commentary.
In other words, never forget who you’re fighting for. It makes all the difference.
Secondly, I take a moment to appreciate the things I have loved most about my life. I treasure my freedom, the fact that self-sufficiency and personal responsibility were an integral part of my upbringing, the fact that my choices—good, bad, or a little of both—have gotten me to where I am today.
Every time I take a moment to think about how much I love my freedom, my commitment to preserving it becomes that much stronger.
And finally, I spend some time thinking about political leaders whose records have inspired me, leaders who never forgot their values while fighting a broken system, leaders who managed to break through that system and institute reforms that have revitalized their cities, states, and country. Those are leaders whose policies, records, and visions I have been proud to defend.
Political figures like that may be hard to come by, but they exist. You may have to wade through a mess of phonies to get to them, but I promise you that they are out there. And they are fighting to make their mark.
As 2012 approaches, hold onto those thoughts and let them inspire you to stay committed. The system doesn’t change because of one leader or one election. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes ousting a lot of nauseatingly disingenuous leadership and replacing it—little by little—with those who are in politics for the right reasons.
Remember that the true vehicle of change doesn’t exist in D.C. or in one charismatic leader. It exists in your passion for spreading the word, in your commitment to seeking out principled leaders and supporting their messages, and—most importantly—in your votes.
Keep the focus. I’m right there with you.