Leadership matters. Nowhere has that been made more clear than in the response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn. As The Atlantic Sr. Editor Ronald Brownstein points out, President Trump’s delay in response has had ramifications for states across the country. Even now, local and state leaders in states like Utah, Florida, and Texas continue to drag their feet – and see case numbers drastically spike. Meanwhile, states that took the COVID-19 outbreak seriously from the start are seeing their case curves flatten. All this ultimately comes down to the actions of those in charge.
We get what we deserve
However, we get the leadership we enable through both activism and disengagement. Political engagement is one of the most important things we as Americans can do for ourselves and our country. We must stop seeing politics as something to be derided, mocked, or avoided. Rather, it is the most important civic duty of every American citizen.
Calls for us to “get politics out of our lives” are what has ultimately led to this mess. We need to understand that politics are an important part of our lives and impact us and our loved ones in very real and personal ways. Politics are how we shape our government. And government is how we shape our world. It is impossible to make massive changes in the world on an individual level. That takes the collective power of a government “by the people, for the people”.
But that type of power comes with responsibility. Politics must be treated with the seriousness and devotion it deserves. Luckily, this is fairly easy to do. It’s as simple as voting in every election, writing to your legislators, and staying informed with various reputable news sources. And perhaps protesting and striking if it becomes necessary. For better and worse, politics impacts all of us. If you don’t like how it’s impacting you or others, then you need to get involved instead of shunning it.
That is the only way things will change. What you do and don’t do makes a difference. To quote Pericles: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.”