While cynicism is always high when it comes to the reliability of our elected officials, Americans have become even more cynical about their leaders since the government shutdown. Polls show that Republicans and Democrats alike are taking a hit in their approval ratings, and the number of people who would like to throw everybody out in Washington is at an all time high. This shut down has seemed to put a spotlight on the government's inability to function.
If we are indeed a government that is of the people, by the people, for the people, than isn't our dysfunctional government a reflection of dysfunctional people? I find that I don't just feel cynical about the leaders of our country. I feel cynical about the people that make up our country.
From my understating, in order for a government to function, it needs informed voters, and generally moral people (I don't mean necessarily religious). Our government was founded with a certain suspicion of people in power because it knew very well how power could corrupt those who hold it. This is why power was put in the hands of the people who were thought to be more dependable. But what do we do when we're not? It's happened throughout our history more than it should have, and I think it's happening now.
Things that should be occasional have become frequent, and the checks and balances in our system are having a hard time making up all the lying and cheating and need among the people. The government, with all it's services and responsibilities, functions better when fraud, whether, for example, it's claiming disability that isn't deserved or cheating on taxes, is occasional and not frequent. It functions better when we have to watch out for the occasional corrupt leader, and don't wonder if all are corrupt. Things work better when parents properly care for their children and neglect is less frequent than it is. Things work better when we're responsible with our money and don't create situations for ourselves where we need the government to bail us out of our debt. And how can we hold anyone accountable if we don't stay informed? How can we hold our leaders accountable when our elections are more about the man or woman with the best personality and not the one who is best for the job?
Our government is disappointing, but as in most cases, real change comes from the bottom up, not the top down. By this I mean, if we take care that we are responsible, and encourage responsibility in our friends and neighbors, by design, we can begin to improve our local government, and eventually our state and federal governments. We can vote in the best people we can by staying more informed. If we were more honest, taxes would go further if so much of it wasn't wasted by going to people who are cheating the system. We can act in such a way that the taxes we pay go further by not having the government need to account for all our personal dysfunction in our finances and family. I think there should be a safety net for people in need, whether those in need did it to themselves or not, but I don't believe there would be so much need as there is if there were more emotionally, physically and financially healthy families. We're the ones who are electing our fellow citizens to represent us, and it's our actions that affect the decisions they make.
As this is trying to be a piece of persuasive writing, I have fulfilled my duty, as seen in the previous paragraph, by adding a "call to action," as English instructors say. You, as the reader, are meant to be inspired. I have highlighted a problem. Now let's all go out and fix it! But the cynicism stays with me.
Yes, the way our governmental system is designed, we can technically fix the problem of a dysfunctional, often corrupt, government. Yes, some of us will live lives and cast votes that support a healthier society. But will it be enough? One of us can knock on doors and organize rallies, and try to reach out to our community. But am I going to do it? No. Are you going to do it? No. If one of our neighbors decides to do it, it will only be a temporary change, and things will go back as they are. I believe change is possible. I don't believe it's probable.