Vote or Be?
By Sam Burnham
This election is driving me crazy.
I've been a political junkie all my life. Even as a adolescent, I had a love for elections. I followed candidates, listened to their speeches, considered their ideas. I remember sitting during the allotted time during my civics class reading through Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report learning about current events and how they played out in the press. I remember the red sweeping across the map as the results of 1984 showed Ronald Reagan squeezing Mondale-Ferraro into Minnesota and the District of Columbia and holding them there. I remember working election night as a high school journalism intern at a local TV station covering the 1992 election and realizing that for the first time in my political awareness a Democrat would be in the White House. And I remember always wishing that I could vote. I wanted to play a role, not just follow along in the news.
So you can probably understand my utter disappointment as I watch the process this year wishing once again that I could play a role and not just follow along in the news. I have taken to ABG in the past in order to offer an official endorsement, for whatever that is worth, and to list my reasons why I made that endorsement. That may happen yet this year but not today.
Instead, I'd like to offer a different type of endorsement. I believe I've communicated my conservatism here on more than one occasion. But I also refuse to be counted among the Republicans and this election cycle is a perfect example of why. The level of discourse, the lack of a strong candidate that represents my views, and the overall juvenile tone have me looking at the Republican primary with very little enthusiasm.
There are several hot button issues that I want to hit on because I think the only way that our society, as we know it, is going to survive is if conservatives take on a holistic approach to the philosophy they claim to espouse. I'm going to do it in a way to point out the difference between policy and principle, between law and lifestyle.
I can't think of a better place to start than with religion. Conservatives are quick to point out that there is no designated "separation" of church and state and, for the most part, I agree. I think there should not be laws neither requiring nor disallowing the practice of a particular religion or denomination but the "separation" goes too far in policies and court rulings today.
However, this is not our problem in society today. The problem is that we are fighting too hard to get our religious freedom in the public arena but we are not doing enough to exercise that freedom on private terms. We beg for prayer in school but we neglect prayer in the home. We scream for the Ten Commandments to be placed at the courthouse but we don't follow them at our houses. Until faith, a cornerstone of conservatism, permeates the personal lives of the conservative electorate, it will never be a major force in American society.
Being Pro-life is a major stance among conservatives. We often equate that to standing against abortion and that is certainly part of it. But we need to be molding a society that removes abortion from the equation, not because we passed a law against it but because we addressed the core issues at the heart of unwanted pregnancies. Raising children to become responsible people who deal with each other with wisdom and also with a respect for the well being of others would go a long way in reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies. And it's very easy to point a finger at the role of the media in the sexualization of our modern culture, it also has something to do with the acceptance of that media by the first role models our kids will have, us, their parents.
One more for now. As conservatives, we fight and claw every two years with the mantra that we are going to make government smaller, address economic issues such as the national debt, tax reform, and reign in spending. Sometimes we win elections, sometimes we lose. But a few things never happen: the government never gets smaller, the budget never gets balanced, the debt clock never slows down, taxes never get fairer, and spending never decreases. Oh, and we never quit supporting the party that is lying to us.
With that, I'd like to give this challenge. For those of us who consider ourselves conservative, are we content to merely vote conservative? Or are we going to commit ourselves to be conservative? Is our philosophy something that points us in the column of a particular political party in the voting booth or is it something that influences how we live our everyday lives?
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Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire