Featured, Politics, Uncategorized

Thoughts Define Us

June 27, 2016

All that we are is the result of what we have thought–Buddha

I wish that more people would think before they speak or act. Whether it’s political discourse (my fingers want to type “discord”) where we listen to people calling each other names or it’s an overheard conversation waiting in line at the grocery store (where two men gossip about a neighbor down on his luck — “all his fault. He should have…”), we are a collection of what we think.

Does anyone really think that politicians believe what they say? Or are we hearing the thought de jour designed to sway our thinking for the few minutes we listen? We hear that no politician tells the truth but only the truth as he or she sees it. We hear that politicians live for the moment when giving speeches, playing to the crowd, and bowing to applause. We wonder if people can be so duped to believe voting for a referendum won’t have serious consequences.

Take the referendum thing for a second. Back in the ’70s, Californians voted on Proposition 13 to freeze or severely limit the percentage property taxes could be raised. That proposition is still on the books, which means it cuts into badly needed revenues the state could use to rebuild its infrastructure. What the voters didn’t realize was there was no “sunset” clause where the proposition would end if the legislature didn’t take action. And now, bridges, highways, schools, and other things used by the populace can’t be improved or repaired.

Just last week, the United Kingdom voted on a referendum on leaving or staying in the European Community, the EU. From the number of Google searches the day after the historic vote, a whole passel of citizens didn’t know what that meant. They searched for all sorts of issues surrounding Brexit, with many saying they didn’t know what leaving would really mean. Really? I’m shocked that people believed the bellicose rhetoric of the leave side. Jon Stewart may have said it best when he turned the vote into a Jane Austen moment. To paraphrase, the Brits voted either for Sense and Sensibility or for Pride and Prejudice. Only time will tell what the unforeseen consequences will be.

In the US, we have elections coming in November. The summer promised to be long and hot, full of accusations, hopes for an indictment before one convention, mud-slinging, outright lies, and declining voter morale. I for one have campaign fatigue. Living in a so-called swing state exposes me and mine to a barrage of commercials, a barrage which doesn’t look like it will ease until after the election. Like the residents of the UK, many US citizens appear to be falling for one set of lies or the other. Too bad they don’t or won’t educate themselves on what is really at stake and vote accordingly.

I rather fancy the Australian way of voting for top leadership. If I remember correctly, all Australians must vote. That’s right, must. Voting becomes an obligation not a privilege. Aussies also have something on the ballot the US and UK don’t: the choice of voting for “none of the above.” Would that we had such a choice this time around.

Okay, political rant subsiding. It’s not over, but it’s back under control. Have a terrific summer. Try not to listen to too many campaign commercials. They are certain to turn your stomachs and ruin your day.

Peace out.

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  • Reply Diane Burton June 27, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    Great post, Betsy. I prefer Canada’s method of election. If I’m not mistaken, campaigning goes for 6 weeks and then they vote. Why do politicians think that 2 years of ads will convince people to vote a certain way?

    • Reply Betsy Ashton June 27, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Ah yes, the joys of a Parliamentary system of government. I could probably tolerate a six-week campaign. In fact, no need for more than that because most politicians firm up their messages from the very beginning and don’t change them. Most, but not all.

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