In a democracy, we get to vote for our leaders. We place our trust in, and express our favor towards, someone who we believe will:
- Define policy
- Implement policy
- Enforce policy
- Review policy
And do so in the best way possible, out of the available options.
Frustrated With Voting
Yeah, this year’s US election is a doozy. I sure don’t remember any election like it. I thought I’d ask someone a bit older than me what he thought on the matter, so I asked my father-in-law if he ever saw a US election like this one in the past. He said, “No. Nothing even close.”
Every time I go to vote, I feel a sense of futility. I’m frustrated that I don’t personally know the people I have the option to vote for. And I’m frustrated that I don’t know the full spectrum of issues that will be under their control. So how do I know if they’re a good fit for the job?In the end, I try to remember the few things I know about each candidate. I also factor in the political options of those I respect and share values with.
In the end, I try to remember the few things I know about each candidate. I also factor in the political options of those I respect and share values with.But will this result in the right candidate getting elected? Or will it result in the definition, implementation, enforcement, and review of
But will this result in the right candidate getting elected? Or will it result in the definition, implementation, enforcement, and review of policy that will improve the nation?Unfortunately, most of us have become too cynical on the matter to think so. So what will really help a nation?
Unfortunately, most of us have become too cynical on the matter to think so. So what will really help a nation?
In the 1990s, a British anthropologist named Robin Dunbar claimed that we can only maintain a meaningful social connection with approximately 150 people. This is known as Dunbar’s Number or Dunbar’s Rule.
So, all those friends you have on Facebook? Ask yourself how many of them you are maintaining a meaningful social connection with. Most likely that number will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 real friends.
The Power of Community
And what does this mean? That unless you’re a Washington D.C. (or Las Vegas) socialite, the person you will be voting for in the US election will most likely not be one of your 150 friends. You don’t really know who you’ll be voting for.
And that’s how democracy works, we trust people to lead the nation, but we don’t know them. We live our individual lives, and we accept our rights and obligations as citizens.
But between the individual and the nation, there’s something else. There’s that circle of 150 friends for each individual. Those circles can best be referred to as communities. And we are not a nation of individuals, we are a nation of communities.
When an elected leader defines, implements, enforces, and reviews policy, it affects not only the individual, but the individual’s community as well. It is within the community that we find the expression of the policies that are set in place.
It is within the community that we better understand our rights and obligations as citizens.
We need our communities to give meaning to our national identity. And it’s our communities that help us become more informed voters.
Communities have leaders too. Many neighborhoods have municipal representatives, and faith-based communities have pastors and spiritual leaders.
Contrary to the quick fix of casting your ballot, there’s a long game in which we have the responsibility to serve our community leaders. These leaders can represent our nation’s greater leadership to us. And when we serve them, we are serving our nation, because we are improving our communities, and our nation is made up of communities.
How to make your vote really count
Remember, it’s not “you and the government”, it’s you and your community and the government.
Living from this perspective will bring a true connection between the individual and the nation. It will encourage more communities to behave likewise as well.
Go and vote for the person who will define, implement, enforce, and review policy in the way that is closest to your values. And then go serve in your community.
Can you think of someone in your community that you should be supporting? Decide on one thing you will do this week to help that person. Let me know what you decided on in the comments below!