Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time to pay attention


   History and the founding fathers tell us that freedom is not free. All societies need some kind of organizing force, and that force is government. But government costs more than merely money. It costs in taxes. It costs us in bothering to register to vote and in taking the time to vote. It costs us time in paying attention.
    Some of America’s founders believed that citizens need education to be able to maintain what can be a complicated relationship with their government, but most citizens seem uncertain now about what is expected of them. It’s certainly not necessary to be a hands-on participant in a political campaign, or to watch the 24-hour cable TV news channels, but a big part of the cost of government is just paying attention.
    Subjects like math and science are highly valued in today’s high-tech world, but history and American government are too often treated as little more than unpleasant medicine to be taken in high school and then largely ridiculed as economically worthless in higher education. Ironically, immigrants seeking citizenship are required to pay a price in knowledge about the American political process that we as a society seem unwilling to exact of those who are native born.
    People do vote. Somebody wins; somebody does not. We like it when a candidate, like both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan did during their presidential campaigns, tell us how wonderful we are and how bad things are in government. The message seems to feed some deep-seated social need to believe that government is bad.
    The recent expensive and pointless government shutdown demonstrated that at least some of our citizens seem motivated not by a sense of responsibility to govern but by a huge amount of frustration and anger. Angry or not, shutting down the government, threatening to default on the nation’s debt, and allowing incredible amounts of money from energy oligarchs—who understand power and how to use it—to accomplish their political and economic goals, is also a cost of government that we will all pay if we do not take the time and effort to reinstate our own willingness to pay the cost of citizenship in a democracy.
    We all play a role in the government we have. Elected leaders and the government they create do not happen by accident or divine intervention or magic. More than anger is required for good and decent government.
    Elections do have consequences, and it’s election season again. Time to pay the cost of our individual attention for the government we need.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2019 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.