A lot of Americans are worried about the 2016 presidential campaign as political analysts wring their hands about the state of democracy and complain about a lack of quality candidates.
We now have a full-time outrage industry that stands ready to tell Americans how and by whom they are being victimized. A chorus of “political experts” repeats the refrain that the political system in our country has fallen on hard times. However, we need to remember that hyperbole has a long history in the United States, and it is easy to lose perspective in the heat of the campaign and forget how the U.S. has thrived for 240 years with flawed leaders.
My suggestion to friends troubled by this election coverage is to turn off cable television and avoid clicking on melodramatic internet headlines. Additionally, pause before being drawn deeper into the political battleground by fundraising appeals based on stoking fear. People who oppose your position are not likely to change their minds based on a 30-second commercial, and we are not making the world a better place by funding another nasty television attack ad. It is much more likely that your contribution will benefit a political campaign consultant who makes a nice commission making these types of ads.
If the presidential campaign is particularly depressing to you, remember there are countless elections held annually at the local, state and national levels that provide opportunities to demonstrate democracy. Unfortunately, many citizens pay little attention to elections involving their local and state leaders. It is important to avoid obsessing about only the presidential election and start investing more fully in representative democracy at every level.
Don’t let hysterical media sources discourage you with their fixation on finding the worst of the political world and their implication that this is the first generation of flawed politicians. And, instead of adding to the noise by giving money to political action committees, consider making a contribution to charity or supporting a scholarship for a student attending SFA or another institution of higher learning.