After years of fighting, years of spilling our blood and treasure, we finally had our own independent, sovereign country. We were finally free of the shackles of tyranny. So many of our young men lay dead, so much of our property gone, so much of our innocence lost. Yet, we were finally in control of our own destiny. This precious gift of freedom bestowed upon and earned by us, now looked to us for its continued sustenance.
The answers would come with difficulty, just like our independence had done so. The solutions would not be unanimous nor perfect, but they would be ours, for better or worse. Many of the solutions would prove effective and many would not. Time and experience would, as always, would be the true indicators of success.
Finally, on a hot summer day in Philadelphia, a group of the finest leaders in our fledgling country signed a document that would give us the best chance of success for this new Republic. Within two years, it had been ratified and put into practice and since 1789, our country has enjoyed a simple freedom – that no more than 730 days would pass before we the people would have the opportunity to radically change the course of our government.
Fast forward to the year 2012. Only hours ago did we ring in the new year, as has been the custom for centuries. But unlike last year, this year brings that all-important day – day 730 – to bear. Because of the United States Constitution, we’re given the opportunity to change the entire makeup of the body of Congress, which was considered by our forefathers to be the most influential and powerful over the course of our nation. The House of Representatives was always intended to reflect the will of the people in the election process that is held every two years, and is the closest thing to a pure democracy that the framers ever wanted to approach.
Every 730 days (or 731) the charge is given to the people to point the country in the direction it wants. We now have a fixed 435 member lower house, not one of whom is guaranteed to hold that position for more than 730 days. Yes, some members continue to enjoy reelection to the post on a continual basis, but none of them are guaranteed a spot. Without filing the proper paperwork and formally declaring candidacy, no one in the House of Representatives may serve beyond his or her current term.
This means that if we, as a people, want to replace all 435 members with someone else and thus dramatically change the direction of the country, we can do that every 730 days. The next opportunity for this will be in a little over 11 months from now. If new people are elected, it will be because of the will of the people. If old people stay in their positions, it will be because of the will of the people.
It is far too easy in our cynical world just to say that we do not have control over our own political destiny. It’s too easy to blame big corporations, big government, unions, special interest groups etc. for having a stronghold on Washington, but at the end of the day, it’s the voter that sets the agenda and it’s the voter that must take ultimate responsibility.
Taking personal responsibility however is not in vogue in our current society. It is far easier to hold up signs that blame Wall Street, corrupt politicians and the like. Unfortunately, if we are going to be truly honest with ourselves, we will have to realize that our chance to right the ship arrived and we didn’t do our part. He it’s easy to chant slogans and shout “we the people!” It’s much more difficult to realize that the true “Buck” stops not at the desk of the president, but at our own front door. WE are the controllers of the destiny of this country, not our politicians, not special interests, not unions and not big corporations. “We the people” refers not just to our rights as United States citizens, but to our responsibilities as well – responsibilities given to us by countless individuals who gave up their lives, their liberties and their pursuits of happiness – for ours.
So before you go out and protest, before you call up a radio talk show, before you spout off to anyone willing to listen about how bad your country is, I challenge you to do the one thing that will make the most difference – VOTE! Your vote is no more or less valuable than that of the bigwigs on Wall Street or the CEO of a powerful company or the head of an influential union. Your vote is the greatest equalizer ever given to man in terms of his political future. It’s time to take your job seriously – a job you only need to exercise every 730 days. Consider the fact that for the vast majority of people on this earth, this job is not even offered to them.
If we as citizens/members/employers of our country neglect to use this great power and privilege, that is our choice. But by forfeiting this God-given right and privilege, we give up the right to be “boss” to those persons who, for the next 730 days, will control the direction of the country.