By Dan Hazen / Herald Forum
I’m writing this on the day before the election. I have no idea what the outcomes will have been, but what I’m about to say, I say with confidence in its relevancy and accuracy not because I possess the ability to see into the future, but because we, the American electorate, are astonishingly predictable.
To you, the voter who is now convinced that “democracy has ended,” because your candidate(s) did not prevail: Your demands to “talk to the manager of democracy right now!” have been noted.
But newsflash: You are the manager of democracy. That’s how democracy works. We have exactly the governance we deserve because we make it.
Our denials of responsibility based on “stolen elections” or “voter suppression” or “elitism” just don’t hold up in the wee hours of the morning when it’s dark, we can’t sleep, and we can’t escape the truth: We asked for this.
We demand cheap food and higher wages. We demand freedom (for our proclivities) and central control (for our neighbor’s). We fly whichever flag showboats our progressive morality and shout for “justice,” but we have never had a person from our favored minority group in our home for dinner.
We proudly decry homelessness but refuse affordable housing in our neighborhoods. Then if by some miracle an apartment building is constructed nearby, we pay to have more land cleared further up the freeway and build our “house, shop and RV storage” there. When that home becomes corrupted by too much traffic and too many liberals, we move to Idaho and start wrecking things there.
We have populated school boards, court benches and utility commissions with the ideologues of our fancy, but mostly with strangers we could not be bothered to know. We then promote them to state offices and finally federal positions because we absent-mindedly come to identify them as part of our tribe. They’re on “my team”; character, wisdom and honesty be damned.
We think the president of the United States is personally responsible for the price of gas. We think a U.S. senator or member of Congress who has held office since the last millennium is going to bring about the “change we need.” We think federal tax dollars come from somewhere other than our pockets and that “corporate profits” go somewhere other than our pensions or 401ks. (Really, where do you think all the retired people with two homes, a cabinet full of prescription drugs, a Winnebago and no job are getting their money? Do you think yours will come from somewhere else?)
We clamor for “mental health services” for our struggling kids as we hop from relationship to relationship, producing more children with different partners, creating zero stability and learning to navigate with skill and elegance the systems of child custody, restraining orders and behavioral medications. We’re now at least four generations deep into this little social experiment.
We sit in churches every week as the teachings of a powerful but gentle truth-teller (we nominally call “God”) conversely bounce off our foreheads and (inexplicably) lead us to support a lying, hate-filled and greed-driven sociopath, or these same teachings begin to compost in our hardened hearts until the only thing we vote to protect is our own decadent and overripe liberty to express ourselves artistically and sexually.
Friend, we are the problem. We are also the solution. Wake up. Start living a life worthy of your high calling. The politics will take care of itself.
Dan Hazen is the community pastor at Allen Creek Community Church in Marysville.
The Herald Forum invites community members to submit essays on topics of importance and interest to them. Essays typically are between 400 and 600 words in length, although exceptions for longer pieces can be made. To submit essays or for more information about the Herald Forum, write Herald Opinion editor Jon Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 425-339-3466.