- By: Doug Betts, Business/Education Committee Chairman
I was at Tailspin Tommy’s Aerodrome Eatery at Chandler airport recently, having lunch with some friends. I guess it’s that time of year again… because the conversation soon turned to politics.
I observed quietly as the other five people numbered off all the reasons why they preferred one candidate over the other, with all coming to consensus on the best choice. After some time, one of my friends turned to me, concerned that I had not voiced my agreement with them and remaining silent. I assured her that while I was on the same page as the rest, politics just don’t grab me. I think a lot of people may object to this disinterest in talking about politics as she did, so I’ll tell you why I feel this way.
It seems that all too often, even if my preferred candidate wins, he or she gets into office and does not fulfill their promises, perhaps even conforming to a different agenda than they’d claimed they would if elected. In other cases, the elected official performs as they said they would but fails to accomplish their goals due to opposition or special interests. There have also been times when the person I did not want to win an election was successful in their bid, then accomplished things while in office that I liked.
Please don’t misunderstand, I believe it’s important to evaluate the candidates and vote for the person most aligned with your values, but experience has taught me that I have little control over most results.
On the other hand, I know that I have complete control over my own actions and participation in activities that make our community a better place. Therefore, I put my energy into becoming more engaged in efforts and organizations with boots on the ground, which pursue the values I believe in.
To describe a value that guides my choices, please consider the phrase, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” It may seem like a fair question, but the subjective and short term nature of the quandary is something to really reflect on. My guess is that if you ask a drug addict this question while he is high, he is likely to say yes, that he’d rather enjoy this lifestyle than anything else. But at what cost?
If I’m personally better off now than I was four years ago, but my grandkids are going to be paying for it when they’re grown up, I think we can all agree that it probably isn’t a good thing. So the value I use to guide my choices must be based upon ensuring that all have a better long-term future, not just me in four years.
The whole issue strikes me as similar to the choices our nation was forced to make during World War II. Every citizen made sacrifices to improve the future, not just theirs but the country as a whole. These days, it seems all too common that we see politicians and people making choices which sacrifice the long-term future to improve the short-term present. And frankly, that just doesn’t make sense to me.
Here’s an idea that does make sense… Why not get involved with the Business Education Committee at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce? Take the energy and emotion that you have for political debate and apply that towards helping us find ways to prepare youth and adults for better lives consistent with the Chamber’s mission statement, “Promoting business and enhancing the economic and cultural well-being of Fresno County residents.” We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:30 AM at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce office and we’d love to have you there!