My column in today's Ledger & Times ...
People tend to elect people they think will meet their needs.
Teachers support politicians who push education. Union workers rally behind people who aid their cause. Conservatives look to those who share their family values.
The amount of money given to a certain program may vary from administration to administration. The emphasis may change with each inauguration.
But, thing is, our democracy isn’t threatened. We watch partisan ballots overshadow legitimate needs constantly in Washington and Frankfort. But in the end, democracy still wins.
While listening to former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto speak Tuesday evening, I kept thinking about how our country’s partisan bickering and even wars of words within either party is so senseless.
She talked about how without democracy people in her native country worry about their children being educated, their families having clean water, their cities being safe and their bodies being cared for. She has been jailed, been separated from her husband while he was in prison, and lived in exile because Pakistan’s other government said hers was corrupt.
Meanwhile, Al Gore lost his presidential bid after much debating and recounting and went on to win an Oscar for a documentary on global warming while his family lived a comfortable life.
So John Edwards waited four years to run for the Democratic presidential nomination again. So Mitt Romney is a Mormon and not a Christian like many conservatives hope for in a Republican presidential candidate. So Gov. Ernie Fletcher has some competition from his own party. So Lt. Gov. Steve Pence called Fletcher names and threw his support to former U.S. Congresswoman Anne Northup. So Kentucky Democrats have so many choices of who they want in the governor’s mansion.
So what. Really.
These people put themselves out there to run for public office — something someone like me never would want to do. Sure, they have their agendas and causes and issues and friends. Sure, they want to win and probably even want to do some good.
But if they lose, they move on. They tour the country speaking or find another office for which to run. They don’t have to move to other countries for their safety or because the person now in charge told them to.
I can only assume how Bhutto feels about abortion and civil rights. You can look at her resume and see how she feels about education.
Despite the sacrifice that went with being the first female leader of a modern Muslim nation, Bhutto raised three kids and her marriage survived the drama of politics we’ll never grasp. That’s family values.
So we may disagree with the judges she wants appointed or the programs she chooses to support most, but she is lobbying for a free democracy more than anything specific.
We have opponents here in our political races, but nothing like Bhutto’s opponent, which she describes as a military dictatorship that turns its head to terrorists.
Forget our partisan squabbles and just vote. Vote in the primary races this May. (Yes, even Republicans get a chance to do that this time.) Then vote in November’s general election. And do it all again next year.
Become informed before you vote. Talk to your friends. Talk to your opponents. Read newspapers. Ask questions. Write your representatives. Follow issues.
Do it all for the sake of our country. But more importantly do it for the sake of the democracy that allows us to make these choices.