Steve “Stef” Stefanides
I’m sure that on the evening of November 8th, after all the polling places across the nation have closed and the robo-calls have ceased, Americans will breathe a sigh of relief as the electioneering will be done, at least for another two years.
Our system of government, that of a Democratic Representative Republic, is one that is as perfect as it gets in my opinion. However, it requires that our citizens stay informed, engaged, and understand how our government should work.
“If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, as Thomas Jefferson cautioned, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed,” said President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which was held in tight secrecy, Benjamin Franklin was asked what type of government the new Constitution of the United States would bring to the citizens of the fledgling nation. His response to the questioner, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
I’m not sure that either Jefferson or Franklin would have envisioned the world as it is today. Neither could have imagined the dismay of “career politicians,” who stay in power for decades (in both the state and federal levels), and the corruption that tends to breed.
It is also ironic that the men who penned the Constitution of the United States would place so much emphasis in their strong faith, and in God. It is ironic because today we are so focused on “political correctness,” and the removal of those strong beliefs in faith from much of our everyday lives. These changes in our society are not what John Adams envisioned when he said; “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.”
Demanding results from those that are responsible for governing is our responsibility as a people. Our failure to be informed as to who is responsible and what they are responsible for is an ignorance we cannot afford.
Democracy will die due to that ignorance, for we, as a people, will be blinded by our lack of understanding of the issues that lie before us. Failure to understand issues and the facts, while instead being misled by a frenzy of half-truths, rumors and slanderous accusations will doom us as a nation.
We live today in a world of instantaneous communication and a 24/7 news cycle. Where a volume of disinformation floods our everyday lives, and in many cases, we find ourselves easily drawn into making decisions that we may in fact regret for years to come.
During the early years of our nation the transfer of news took weeks, if not months, to reach from east to west. Even the results of something as important as a Presidential Election would be unknown for many weeks. Today we grow impatient if the person we call doesn’t answer on the second ring or return our call within the hour.
It is important as citizens to become involved, informed and enlightened to the issues that face us, whether it be on the local, county, state or federal level. This will insure that we do not become easily persuaded by torrents of emails, candidate calls and attempts to influence our judgment by playing to our fears.
The strength of our nation, as well as our communities, lies within the strengths of our individual citizens. We have risen to many challenges, both externally and internally, since our nation was conceived. We have overcome and persevered, while becoming a better nation, and a people, for the lessons learned.
However, we should not fail to take seriously the need to have our citizenry stay informed and engaged in the civic matters that face our nation and our communities. This nation cannot survive without an independent and informed electorate. It was Abraham Lincoln who said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
We should heed those words from the past, if we are to insure the future for generations to come.
Steve Stefanides, well-known by his nickname “Stef,” is an experienced award-winning reporter of local civic and public interest news. Stef’s More Straight Talk column (and its predecessor, Straight Talk), on a variety of subjects, is a favorite of readers who trust him to bring them the facts. A Marco Island resident, Stef contributes to the community in many ways, having served on a number of city committees, charitable groups, boards and local organizations. Contact him by email at Stef@coastalbreezenews.com