Saturday, August 25, 2012

America Needs an Intervention

"I once saw a snake having sex with a vulture, and I thought, it's just business as usual in Washington D.C."
Jarod Kintz - The Days of Yay are Here! Wake Me Up When They're Over

POLITICS have gotten so jacked up in America. I am absolutely floored by the number of people who say, "I don't know who I'm going to vote for this year or even if I want to vote. I don't like either candidate." Republicans and Democrats alike have gone too far. And they aren't the only ones to blame. We, the voting citizens, need to take some ownership of this crisis too. Afterall, we are the ones falling for all of the crap we see in the media, aren't we? We are the ones who buy what they're selling and enable them to continue their antics.

When I was younger I wanted so badly to be in politics. I was going to fight for the people and I was going to make a difference. I remember the first office I ran for in High School:  Future Homemakers of America Iowa District 12 President. (Don't laugh!) From there is was a state office. Now, FHA had some requirements to run for a state office. You needed to actually volunteer and be a contributing part of your community outside of school to even put your name in. It was so much fun running at the convention in Des Moines. When all of the officers were elected we sat in a room, learned about all the different responsibilities, and decided which role we wanted to take on. My choice was to be the Public Relations Officer for Iowa. I had the opportunity to attend education conventions, to speak at school board meetings, and to meet with Iowa governement officials. It was so much fun educating the public about our organization and writing all of the state newsletters. My junior year in high school I was chosen for the American Legion Auxillary Girls' State. We stayed in dorms at the University of Northern Iowa, and each floor was a community. We learned about government, received an understanding of politics, and ran for offices. There were political campaigns, town hall meetings, and senate votes. It was one of the best experiences of my life.

I entered college bright-eyed with a political science major and law school aspirations. Maybe I would be a governor. Maybe I would become a lobbyist. Whatever I did I was going to be happy, wealthy, and convicted. Yeah, right! Little did I know that didn't exist. In politics you can't have wealth and integrity. In today's politics you don't have power and noteriety without compromising your values. It's sad, really. I didn't know what I was going to do. Who was I going to be? When I realized all of this, I was almost finished with my junior year. I didn't want to be another sell-out pretending to fight for the people. I didn't know who I was. I dropped out of school. To this day I can't say that I regret doing it. I was spending money on a degree that I didn't even know if I wanted. I needed to take some time to find myself. I was too young for this shit.

I packed up and moved to Jersey City, about a mile off the Hudson River. After a couple of years of self-discovery I moved back to Iowa and entered the retail world. I went back to school, not for politics, but for sociology and for marketing. I worked my way up the corporate ladder to a position as an Account Executive for the largest prestige cosmetics company in the world. What I learned quickly was this:  retail was not much different. D.C. Politics were there too and my schooling and my experiences helped me get far in my career.

I covered 23 stores as an Account Executive and over the years I saw a major shift in the retail world. Store leadership was changing. These past two years have been very exciting to be a part of. You see, when a company, organization, or person hits rock bottom they start to evaluate who they are compared to who they want to be. They finally have the gumption and the motivation to do something about it. Dirty managers were weeded out. Bad employees were let go. New talent, fresh talent was brought in. Stores got face lifts. The retail world has become a better place. Business has never been better!

The retail world that I have been a part of has "gotten something" that our American Politics has not.:
The old ways of doing things won't work any longer.

We need leaders who serve the people and that don't just blow smoke. We need leaders who aren't afraid of the real issues and who aren't going to pad problems with fluff. We need someone who isn't afraid to tell their campaign head to shove it, and will stand firm on being transparent. We need platforms run on positivity versus mudslinging.

I am sick and tired of politics as usual. Since when does every Republican HAVE to agree that same sex couples should not be married? Since when does every Democrat HAVE to agree that gun control is a good thing? It's like we are forced to pick a side and commit to all of these labels that come along with it. Then, we stand and point our finger at everything different, negative, and wrong with the opposing person. Well, I have news for you... that could take forever with any one of us! We ALL have issues. We ALL have faults. Who cares? Doesn't that make us human? No one is perfect.

One of my favorite professors taught religion and he was Jewish. It doesn't mean I love Jesus any less. It means he was an amazing and influential public speaker who engaged me and challenged my beliefs. If I ran for President, someone would say I was anti-Christian. One time I sat with my legs crossed and called it sitting "Indian style". It doesn't mean I am a racist or a biggot. It means that's what I had been taught and heard my entire life and I didn't even realize it was offensive until a friend told me. She knew I was simply uneducated and she helped me. If I ran for President I would be all of those negative names.

It's amazing how things like the above get so easily spun in politics. Take one phrase and you can make it into one thing on Fox News and another on MSNBC. We are so good at manipulating the truth and taking things out of context. I'm always amazed when someone takes everything they have learned in the media to form their opinions and to make their voting decisions. Political campaign leaders really rely on our gullibility as a nation and our ADD to woo us. They use shiny distractions like racism, hatred, patriotism, and religion to divert us from the nation's real issues and what the candidates really stand for. Big money backs the future leaders of our nation, and it's time to end it. Nothing comes without a price.
"Need money? I have money. What can you do for me? At what cost does your soul come? And don't worry. We have a great marketing department. Everyone will be so busy focusing on the fact that he is or isn't X,Y,and Z that they will never even see you are doing it..."

Sad, isn't it?
 I imagine the whole selling of the soul happens gradually. Like drug addictions. No one wakes up and says, "I think I'm going to smoke crack today." It always starts with a gateway drug. One that isn't really recognized as bad even though everyone knows it's wrong. "It's just weed." But then, it's exciting and rebellious. You want more. Little by little it builds up. I mean, why can't you take money from this company and do a favor... you did it for him, right? Next thing you know you are sleeping on a church stoop with no teeth and all of this potential.

America needs an INTERVENTION. That intervention starts with US. Next time you get upset and emotionally charged for what a candidate does or does not stand for don't bitch about it, do something. You want to see the education system change? GO TO A PTO MEETING. You want to see the streets cleaned up? GET THE NEIGHBORHOOD TO PLANT SOME FLOWERS. We need to shake off the ideology that the President changes America. He or she is our ambassador, yes. But does the President really change America? NO. WE DO!

Am I telling you not to vote this year? No, DO vote, but don't cast your ballot uninformed and based off of what you see or hear via the propaganda of the media, church, or wherever you may be. Do your research and get informed. Decide what issues are important to YOU. Decide where our country needs the most help and focus. Find out where each candidate stands on each issue, and from a variety of credible and reliable sources. Don't be afraid to cross party lines, remember:  only you are in the booth when you cast your ballot. A party is simply a label, it's not everything a person is. Look past the dog and pony show and really look at who somebody is inside. Before you cast stones publicly take a moment to make sure you don't deserve the same stone too. Grow up.

As the generations change in politics I wholeheartedly feel that we will see a change and an uproar in America, and one for the better. We have hit rock bottom, and we will only go up from here. As Gen Y and X ages into politics we will see some new fresh talent and prespective. Old traditional ways of doing things and "business as usual" won't produce results and won't get us anywhere. It's time for the "doers" of a new generation to lead our nation into a better future. Until then:  strap in, roll up your sleeves, and do something to fix what you can right here today.