“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
We have a year until the 2012 elections. The 2011 local and issue elections are less than two weeks from now. Issues, candidates, parties and interested groups will all be vying for your money, your time and your support. If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that I believe principle, character and integrity are vital elements for deciding whom or what to support in the political arena. Those attributes refer to the candidates or the groups that are promoting various issues. The final critical facet to be considered involves you….yes you. What is your vision for your community, your state or our country? If you possessed absolute power to remake everything, what would your perfect picture illustrate?
We often chide or laud political leaders for visionary perspectives or lack of them. George H. W. Bush didn’t think too highly of “that vision thing,” but he wasn’t re-elected either. We desire the leader who has a firm vision for the future but a clear pragmatic grasp of present reality. This is a rare combination because we associate visionaries with inspiring rhetoric, big ideas and even larger dreams. The pragmatic realist, on the other hand, rolls the shirt sleeves and puts her head under the hood to torque, twist and tweak (a Ross Perot flashback). Our schizophrenic desires seem to be for a grease monkey who’s a gifted poet. The ideal leader may be out there somewhere, but the poet generally doesn’t want to wade in the sludge of politics, and the idealistic grease monkey doesn’t want to “waste” months or years trudging around the nation, state or district trying to convince voters that he or she can “fix it.” The doer wants to “do,” not talk about it.
As one of the group of deciders (voters), it is your duty to design the template for the type of leader that you wish to assume office. The pattern or “jig” should frame the vision, and the internal cuts, miters and routing should identify the principles, character and integrity of the candidates. It is your vision for the nation, the state or the community that should define which candidate or issue you support. Nuts and bolts, gears and shafts, bells and whistles are important elements for identifying the important qualities for a potential leader, but the entire assembled powertrain is needed for the vehicle to move forward.
When you imagine what our perfected 21st Century United States should be, what role do you envision for the federal government? If you believe as I do that it should be limited to the enumerated powers of the Constitution, try to picture in your mind how we move from the sluggish invasive apparatus we have now to the smoothly running structure you desire. Too often constititutionalists have fallen for the slicksters who promise to deliver “smaller government” but fail to clearly define what they mean. If you have the picture or the template, then your questions for the candidate will expose her of his meaningless assertions and promises for what they are. If you do not have the template, the ideal firmly chiseled into your mind, the career politician or the eager opportunist is more likely to win your support and ultimately disappoint you……again.
But Charlie, you might protest, that’s their job. They should share their visions so we can thoughtfully weigh them. You may have a point, but we no longer live in the 18th Century when our Founders and Framers debated what our future should be. Our current crop of “statesmen” contains few philosophers and even fewer thinkers. If you truly wish to preserve and restore the republic, you must contrast the model for the present era and support only those who share your goals. As you know so well, a person or a nation without a firm goal is condemned to wander aimlessly. If the goal is defined and clear, the path to reach it becomes clearer. If the politicians can deliver no more than lofty rhetoric and empty phrases, the people are duty-bound to design the goal and choose the pathway.
When we assemble something new, the bright shiny parts are rather easy to place together in an orderly fashion. We may make some mistakes in the process, but we can quickly dismantle and reconstruct the item. Restoring and rebuilding is usually much more difficult. Parts are greasy, rusted or worn. Tearing the old piece apart is laborious and breaking critical components is a very real possibility. Finding replacement parts may be nearly impossible so we’ll have to build or machine new ones. Fortunately we have the manual as our reference. We have The Constitution of the United States of America, and it is almost brand new because it hasn’t been used very much in the past. Draft your vision, build your dream, and perhaps….they will come.
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