I am a Patriot.
I realize that this has acquired somewhat of a negative connotation in modern society. When someone claims to be a patriot today our minds immediately picture a gun toting, liberal hating, white male with a pick-up from middle (or southern) America who barely graduated high school, has a flag hanging from his porch and bitches about taxes while reminiscing about the good ol’ days. I assure you I am not that; however I am very much a Patriot. I love this country, I love the ideals we were founded on, I love the freedoms we enjoy and I love the way our government is supposed to work and how outside of income taxes or actually being in the military it is easy to forget or never learn in the first place just how our government does work. I love that we are a nation so comfortable with our daily lives that people I know and love are able to live without ever realizing that congressional elections happen every two years. I love that one can say with confidence “if you don’t like it, write your state representative.” And then go their entire lives without ever knowing who their state representative is. This willful ignorance of our nation’s general public is a clear sign that things really aren’t so bad here, that one can live a happy life without ever focusing on anything outside their own personal reality.
I am in no way saying that you should chose to live this way, just that you should be thankful that it is possible. In order to make sure that our fellow Americans can go on living their lives blissfully unaware of the world at large or even who their mayor is we ought to pay attention at least every now and again. Not just every four years but rather every two, at least. As an active participant in society you should take a couple of hours and figure out who it is running your town and putting policies in place. Once you have figured that out you should figure out if you agree with those people or not, if you do not then you should learn when the next local election is and who is running against them. If that person is running unopposed and you truly do not agree with what they are doing it would be a good idea to look more into the situation, become involved and try to make your community aware in order to hopefully get someone to challenge them; or run for that office yourself if you think you are up for it.
It is often said that if you do not vote you do not have the right to complain. I agree with this but I believe it should be more narrowly defined, if you do not vote in your local elections you have no ground to stand on. You see, what most people have a tendency to forget is that the politician you see running for president, or the one currently hanging out with his dog and family in the white house had to start somewhere. If you are waiting until now, during the general election to make your voice heard then you are far too late to voice your complaints. You had the option to help put better people in the position to run and you failed, you did not care and now you have decided to pretend that you do. If this is you, you are not a concerned citizen, you are not an informed voter, you are not a Patriot and no amount of yelling or face book posts will turn you into one.