Having spent 9 years in public life, I know something about that spotlight. Politics is the one forum where one needs no credentials to chart a course for society. One needs only to be in the right place at the right time and have access to money. The situation would be funny, as it is of our making, except the consequences that follow can devastate millions of lives, not only in our country but around the globe.
Still, there are those who treat the democratic process lightly, refusing to participate in the upcoming election if their candidate doesn’t prevail in the primary. A matter of conscience, they insist, as if the rest of us who soldier on have never suffered an election disappointment or were incapable of conscience. One woman on Facebook explained, “I couldn’t participate. I have to vote with my heart.” I cringed. Isn’t that why men argued against the suffragette movement: women were too emotional for politics?
Sadly, nothing destroys a democracy faster — not bankers, not political bosses, not corrupt politicians – than citizens who in a moral pique worthy of ISIS refuse to compromise and either threaten to abandon the ballot box or engage in a pyrrhic write-in protest. When these righteous refuse to support a candidate of similar persuasion, being too refined to be contaminated by compromise, they open the floodgates to ideas abhorrent to them.
I wish I could afford to live in the rarefied atmosphere of the pure in heart. But, like any soldier, I serve my country best when I stand by it in its troubled hour. Too much is at stake: the fate of migrants, women’s rights, health care, the choice of Supreme Court justices, protection for minorities and the poor, gun control, Black Lives Matter… The list is endless. Walk away you high minded people if you must. But tell me, tell me truly, where is your heart?