In 2004, at the sweet and naive age of 24, I committed myself to registering voters and educating co-workers, family members, friends, and neighbors about the upcoming election. Not only did I believe it was my duty to inform my peers about Candidate John Kerry's policies, but I found it equally as important to share information about the political decisions that are often the most neglected, yet have the strongest impact on our daily life: Our state and city elections and propositions. My independent campaign taught me two important lessons. One, majority of Americans have absolutely no idea how to activate or navigate the political landscape. Two, at the end of the day we elect the President that represents our values at that moment in time.
The epiphany of the latter struck me as I joined the millions of Americans crushed by the results of the 2004 election. With my ego bruised and my sense of optimism flickering beneath the weight of disappointment, I conceded the opportunity for change, and resigned to another four years of uncertainty. As I adjusted to the post election reality I began to pay attention to what people were saying around me. I noticed that most of the people I had shared information with did not share my disappointment, or understand my dysthymic mood. I turned on the television and realized that the gap between fluff-based reality shows and primetime news was shrinking, and the post traumatic stress of 9-11 was fading into an occasional headache easily treated by a dose of self-indulgence. I stared into the often blank expression of President Bush and realized that this election was never about what his administration's policies were doing to us; it was about what we as Americans were doing to ourselves.
Eight years later I find myself in a similar position as in 2004. I am passionate about the re-election of President Obama, but this time I recognize that if he loses the election, it will not be because of his policies, Mitt Romney's campaign of lies, or the Citizen's United ruling. It will not because of the tea party, racism, or low voter registration. It will be because of the number of uneducated people in our electorate who do not know the name of their city coucilman, who have never met their school superintendent, and who fail to realize they have a state legislature that governs their lives in ways the federal government cannot constitutionally justify.
President's don't create jobs alone, states share this responsibility.
It has become customary to blame the President when our lives do not improve, be they Republican or Democrat, because Presidential elections are the only time we show up to vote. This is the only information we seek, and therefore, this is the only time we voice an opinion. There are thousands of officals elected to protect our interests, standing between us and the White House. Don't you think it's about time we learned their names?
If we choose not to take the time to get to know the people and the policies in our towns, cities, and states, we will find that the results of the election will reflect our lack of interest, not the President's lack of effort.