"Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves."
-- RONALD REAGAN
One of the most powerful ways to contribute to our society and to influence legislative issues and decisions is running for, and holding, political office.
While any pursuant of an elective position will find campaigning to be time-consuming, as well as emotionally and physically draining, it affords those who are elected the opportunity to direct systemic changes in government.
Well managed government never relies on laws or ordinances, but upon the personal qualities of those who govern. The process of government is always secondary to the will of those who direct that process. Consequently, the most important element of government is the method in which leaders are chosen.
Through an open voting system, it is a privilege of a free society to be guaranteed the inalienable right of electing a governing body to represent it. It is nothing to be taken lightly. The key to what is voted for is a perceptive review of the candidates and issues. It is an opportunity and right to be heard.
Plenty of things are hurting American democracy -- gridlock, negative campaigning and special interests -- but one factor lies at the root of all the others, and nobody dares to discuss it. Voters, in addition to those they will be electing as their governmental leaders, are often uninformed of how government operates. Also, a lack of knowledge exists concerning the actual views of the candidates who are vying to be elected.
Bogus claims by candidates of supposed savvy can lead astray. It is the promises of the "straight talk" that needs to be researched or the assertion from a particular candidate that they are "not a politician" (by which they mean that they will tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear). Root Beer flowing from every drinking fountain is simply unrealistic.
Careful thought and consideration of whom or what we are voting for is the trick to selecting among what is presented on the ballot. Far too often, the murkiness of disingenuous statements goes further than misinformation and is actually deceitful. Spin campaigns that distort the truth while competing for the people's trust are never acceptable.
An honest, ethical and committed stewardship of what the nation's founding fathers established is justified.
Exercising the right to be heard by voting in the upcoming elections is fundamental. It needs to be done with an understanding of the issues and an awareness of the campaigns.
Elimination of that which distorts and deceitfully misinforms to gain your vote will provide a government that meets the high expectation of integrity.
Vote informed on Tuesday, Aug. 13.
Steve Curtis has worked as a business consultant and communication specialist. He is currently mayor of Layton. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.