Of course, God willing, I still have many, many good years ahead (I’m still strong, healthy and relatively young), so I guess the lesson I took from my dad’s words is this: Time is fleeting, so we should make the most of the time we have.
That’s why, although I’m not too big on New Year’s resolutions, I have resolved to look at each new day as a new opportunity; and at the close of each day, I want to know I have been active in some constructive effort to help improve my country, my community and myself.
Everyone probably knows by now that I am retiring from the Tennessee House to seek other opportunities. However, this column is not the proper forum to discuss that. Instead, I want to comment briefly on elections in general.
One way we can all become more effective is by being informed voters. In spite of efforts by some in Washington, D.C., to pattern the U.S. after a European model, this is still a nation of, by and for the people. We the people are the ones who voted our policymakers into office, so if we don’t like our leadership, we have only ourselves to blame.
I am always surprised at the reasons some people have for voting a certain way. I have heard folks say they always vote for one party or the other because that’s the way their parents and grandparents voted, and Mommy or Daddy would “roll over in their grave” if little Junior broke that tradition. I have even heard folks say they voted for a candidate because that candidate held a cookout and provided free barbecue and hot dogs. True, I appreciate anybody that can provide me with a tasty pulled pork sandwich, but that’s not a reason to vote for them ... a reason to attend their rallies, maybe, but not a reason to vote for them.
We should become informed voters. We should familiarize ourselves with a candidate’s background and philosophy, and measure their words against their actions. Most of that info is public record and we should take time to check it out for ourselves. It is a mistake to base our vote on what someone else thinks. If we don’t care enough to research our leaders before electing them to office, we deserve what we get. I am thinking of Washington, D.C., as I say this, but it applies on a local and state level as well.
This year, 2014, will be an important election season as we will be voting for many local and national offices. Whatever your party affiliation, whatever your financial or social situation, whatever you read in the newspaper or see on cable news, we should bear in mind that these midterm elections will impact the direction we move as a nation, as a state and as a county. I have seen a widening divide among people all over the country. It is a political and idealogical divide fueled and encouraged by both parties for their own personal agendas. We do ourselves and future generations a disservice if we can’t even take time to learn what it is we are voting for.
I feel like we’re at a crossroads in this country, and many others share that view. As I said before, we should pay less attention to the talking heads and political pundits, and more attention to our own common sense. If it whines like a politician, wastes money like a politician and blames other people for its own mistakes like a politician, then it’s probably a politician. Let’s consider good ideas and weigh the words of those seeking office against their own past actions and accomplishments. And don’t take anyone’s word for that ... do the research, be objective and step outside your own comfort zone long enough to consider what’s best for our community and our country.
It is not enough to simply welcome in a new year ... we should do everything we can to make it a good year. That’s my resolution and I hope it will be yours as well.
So, Happy New Year to everyone ... it has been the honor and privilege of my life to serve you in the House of Representatives for the greatest state in the Union. May the Lord richly bless and prosper you throughout 2014, and all the years that follow.