I spent the long weekend in the remote forest area of Eastern Arizona with my dad. As I get older, I am noticing the convergence of our personalities and find that he and I can communicate better than when I was a child.
One of the big differences between us though, is our view of politics and the role it plays in everyday life. My dad has a longstanding, burning hatred for the political process. He has never voted and automatically assumes a disgusted look when he sees elected officials on t.v.
I, on the other hand, have always been intrigued with politics and governance. The thought of ideas and organization being used for the greater good has always appealed to me. For as long as I can remember, one of my "mission statements" in life was to leave the world better than I found it; whether it was among my circle of friends, at church, in my community or within the walls of my work complex. It's what has always driven me.
The thing is, my dad has every right to feel the way he does. The impact of politics has been predominately negative in his life. Union strikes due to unfair wages at the copper mines, economic packages that sucked the savings out of his bank account, or simple spats such as having to get a zoning permit to build his garage in his backyard. They are valid reasons for his dismissal, because they are valid to him.
It is my opinion that the key to winning a progressive majority in this country is to find a way to reach out to people like my dad. It is not about the issues all the time, the deeper goal should be for us to empower our fellow citizens to participate fully in the democratic process. Our elected leaders need to learn how to spark a fire in the people rather than stand at a podium and pontificate.
We have seen that "freedom" and "democracy" can be used for greed and division, but I believe that we can change the wind and reclaim those terms for the greater good. We have no choice, it is the only way to save the soul of our country.
It can be done. I believe it.