Democracy Education Reform

Phyllis Bush: We Must Make Our Democracy Work

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Phyllis Bush is a retired teacher in Indiana. She is a co-founder of Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, and a board member of the Network For Public Education.

 

She writes:

 
“Many politicians are beholden to their base in order to be re-elected. Because so few people have traditionally voted, especially in off years, unhappy voters are hugely influential in setting the political agenda for the rest of us. Since those unhappy folks are mad about nearly everything, they choose candidates and instruct them to cut taxes and to obstruct governance.

 

“Then when nothing gets done, we are all angry, and we blame it on everyone but ourselves, because those who voted, voted for obstructionists and hard liners, and the rest of us stayed home and complained about our votes not counting. We should hardly be shocked since this is what we get from our apathy.

 
“Instead of looking for solutions to deal with the serious issues facing us, we get distracted by non-issue threats like transgender bathrooms rather than real issue threats like repairing our infrastructure or dealing with inadequate funding of our social services. This vicious cycle continues because rather than telling their constituents the truth about issues and about choices that need to be made to solve these issues, politicians appeal to our baser selves by sowing seeds of discontent and by concentrating on wedge issues rather than on the compromises needed for governance.

 
“The bottom line is that it is our own fault because we want easy answers to the complexities of life. We are willing to believe what we are told without questioning anyone who reinforces our pre-conceived notions. We are willing to rant and to complain and to blame. So, we sit at our keyboards and angrily click on the latest topic that annoys us, and we periodically rant about the latest slight that angers us–whether it is personal or political.

 
“If anything is ever to change, we need to get off our asses to do the hard work of living in a democracy. We need to get informed, to get engaged, to get involved, to think, and to hold our elected officials to the same standard as we would hold our friends and families.

 
“Rather than waiting for superman, we need to channel our own inner strength and roll up our sleeves to do what is necessary to change the world.”

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