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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Civics Lesson Needed | 02-11-2013
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The Real Side | Commentary by Joe Messina
| Monday, Feb 11, 2013

mug_joemessinaI always love to read about local races and the candidates involved. I love the well-wishers, and when someone like me speaks out against the political neophytes, they get pummeled. Then there are always those “democracy” fanatics who say, “This is the democratic process at work.” Really?

Why is it that when you take your car to a mechanic and he doesn’t really know what he is doing, you’re outraged?

When you look for a doctor to do surgery on you or one of your kids, are you looking for one who has little or no experience because you don’t want him to be boxed in by those pesky medical principles or guidelines? Do you look for one to “shake things up” at the hospital? Or maybe one who hasn’t been exposed to those old dudes in the industry, and since he hasn’t been tainted by the “old guard,” he may be better at finding the cure?

Are you brain-dead? No. You want the best person for the job. You want one who has been tested, one who shows he can handle a curve ball because he is solid in what he knows and what he does – and he has a successful track record to prove it.

Why, then, do we accept less than adequate people for positions of leadership in our government?

James Garfield, twentieth president of the United States, said in 1877:

“Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. … If the next centennial does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”

Statistics show in elections that position on the ballot, race and gender all have positives and negatives associated with them that definitively impact the outcome of the race. Incumbency does, too, depending on the “political” climate (not associated with global warming although we know lots of hot air escapes from the capitol building).

On my radio show, I run what I refer to as “stupid clips.” They highlight people in the general populace who don’t know simple historical facts or things like how our government works, including the power of the president. These people don’t know when we got our independence, why we fought, or even whom we fought. This is dangerous. An uneducated electorate is a call to sound the alarm, in the immortal words of a childhood icon: “Danger, Will Robinson, danger!”

Thomas Jefferson said:

“Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights. … Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. … They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.”

We have uninformed people making decisions that will affect this country and its stability for many years to come. They will affect the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren. So, snap out of it. Get informed and engaged.

We need to elect people to our school boards, and local, county and state-level positions who will ensure a high standard for historical knowledge (among other subjects) is adhered to. Our children must know how many branches of government we have, why they are there, and how they work together. They need to understand the system of checks and balances to ensure there isn’t overreach.

Every American needs to know that the United States of America is a republic, not a democracy, and they need to know the difference.

They need to understand that our forefathers were not just old guys who knew nothing about the Internet or Lady Gaga. Those things have no bearing on the Constitution they crafted for our great country that has stood the test of time. No other free country has had a standing constitution like ours for the length of time we have had it with any success, and we’ve had tremendous success.

The American dream is still available. But not to an ignorant electorate that thinks voting for their party member or someone who is of the same gender or color will give us a stronger America.

 

Joe Messina is host of The Real Side (TheRealSide.com), a nationally syndicated talk show that runs on AM-1220 KHTS radio and SCVTV [here]. He is also an elected member of the Hart School Board. His commentary publishes Mondays.

 

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