Politics has a tarnished reputation. Associated with rancorous debate and mudslinging, we shy away from talking about anything political for fear of disrupting our relationships or starting an argument.
I think it is time to reclaim politics.
Politics is, as the UVA Center for Politics puts it, a good thing. Politics is about governance and how we will live together. Good politics ensures lively debate about what legislation makes for human flourishing and promotes the common good. In Jefferson County, we have a lot of issues that are not creating the best living environment for our neighbors: opioids are stealing lives, lack of good jobs creates economic insecurity, Harrisburg’s failure to raise taxes means the burden disproportionately falls on the local tax base.
As people invested in politics, it is time to start talking about the good ideas and potential solutions we have for these problems that touch all of our lives. Do we want our communities to be healthier? Then we have to start talking about how to get funding for drug rehab facilities and children and youth services. Are we upset about the constant raising of local taxes? Then we have to talk about the state’s failure to raise taxes in areas that are healthy and redistribute those taxes; we have to put pressure on local politicians to promote business development. Are we dissatisfied with the unfunded mandates and lack of solution for violence in schools? Then we have to start holding our representatives accountable to adequately fund schools and take seriously the lack of money rural districts have for guidance counselors and appropriate security.
If we care about our common life, about the wellbeing of our neighbors, then we have to start talking politics. Politics can be positive; we don’t need to trash-talk the other party or its members and candidates. We have ideas. Good ideas. It’s time to start sharing them.