November 7, 2012 by liebestropfchen
Living in the swing state of Ohio brings with it an incredible amount of free education. I am not referring to the traditional classroom education (although I am quite impressed with the public schools and the universities we have). Rather, the free enlightenment each time I look outside my window, drive down the street, or venture into downtown Columbus, Cleveland, or my hometown of Ashland. I see real-life examples of the everyday issues our country is facing – where rural and urban come together and strive to live harmoniously.
As a fiscally conservative, socially liberal vegan, I represent the burgeoning crowd of youthful Independents who do not identify ourselves by one political party. We think independently, we use our hearts as equally as we use our minds when we determine our stance on political issues, and we are tired of the bully mentality of our politicians. Why is it that states like Ohio are unreliable in predicting our electoral votes every four years? Why do the politicians know they need our votes to win the presidency? Why has a Republican never won the White House without winning Ohio? Because we reflect the larger picture, and we are an ever-changing society.
Imagine the entire United States being pressed down to cover a mere 200 miles long and 200 miles wide. We have the farms of the Midwest, the big cities like the East Coast, the industrial hubs, and the artistic hot spots like the West Coast all in one state. Not to mention those pockets of the state where, strangely, Ohioans have developed a southern accent! This allows us the privilege (or the inconvenience, depending on your viewpoint) to see the effects of agricultural issues, automotive manufacturing necessities, large university student trends, traditional religious culture, and the dichotomy of white collar/blue collar families that few other states get to see en masse. The way Ohioans vote reflects the way Americans as a whole country vote, just on a smaller scale. Traditionally conservative, but with those moments of feisty liberal action, we ARE America.
What does this mean for our future? We have seen yet another election come and go in which the leaders of a particular political party are increasingly showing how out of touch they are with the way the political tides have shifted in the past 20 years. In 2008, to answer the call of having lost the presidential election to a very centrist Democrat, the country witnessed a conservative shift away from the pseudo-centrist Republicans to what is now known as the Tea Party. Was this a smart move? Apparently not, as I am convinced that demand brought out the worst in the über-conservative politicians.
Ideally, when the generational tides wash away the ideas of our forefathers to bring about new, fresh views, there will be a handful of politicians identified with the leading political parties who will lead the charge to conform their “outdated” ideas into a new era. Those who help form the new era are successful in making this country a better place in which to live, and they understand that stale ideas lead to huge losses at the polls.
We have seen many changes since this great country was founded. By no means were the Founding Fathers perfect, but they had a daunting task of building the foundation of a new country! How did we get from the initial draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution? Much compromise and hard work. Was the Constitution perfect? We have 27 constitutional amendments to prove the needs of our citizens have changed since 1789.
With each new generation comes a fresh hope for the future. The things that were important to my parents at my age are very different from the things that are important to me today. Why? Because the world is different.
On the surface, it shouldn’t seem necessary for me to say “This isn’t 1972,” because, well, we all know that. However, given some of the talking points in this year’s presidential debates and various congressional races around the nation, stating the obvious about what year we live in is not a far-fetched request. Reading any social networking site, one can stumble across tens, if not hundreds, of rants about how “we need to return to the founding principles of this country!” or “This country is going to hell in a handbasket!” Chicken Littles unite, and proclaim the sky falleth! I shouldn’t even mention the antiquated undertones of the comments about rape and abortion, lest I begin completely losing my composure…but anyone who reads the news will not need for me to elaborate. I completely understand the caution for our future, and longing for us to slow down and think very clearly about the decisions our elected representatives make. However, this is not 1789. Considering how much our world has changed in just the last 15 years, with the Internet and smart phones, how can we possibly govern our country with the principles from an era so far removed from where we are today? This isn’t just a different country, this is a different world.
Thus brings the important question for today’s politicians: Why must any political party continue to push for our nation to stall, or to even reverse, our policies to yesteryear? Not that the alternative is great, for we must be cautious about too much change too quickly. However, given the utter shock half the American voters are in today, somehow not having remotely fathomed a country with four more years of a Democrat in the White House, the losing party is bound to go back to the drawing board to ask “What now?”
I have an answer for you. Move FORWARD with the world, do not continue the failed attempt to “reclaim” the country from progression. Whether slow or fast, progression is inevitable. Our country is no longer isolated, prohibitionist, or segregated. Women have equality and choices regarding how to handle issues men will never experience firsthand. Our economy is global, and our borders are open.
Though the voting population is nearly evenly divided, our elected officials need to represent the needs and desires of all Americans, not just the ones who vote. To fully understand who we are as a nation, these politicians need to spend quality time in states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. These are the swing states, and we provide the best opportunity for a view of America that can be absorbed in a weekend. To fully understand the future we need to build, one must take time to see the world and embrace it for what it is now, not what it was centuries ago.
“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.” – John F. Kennedy