What happened to critical thinking in our nation?  What happened to the respectful intelligent debate of issues important to the electorate? When blatant outrageous lies by politicians meant the end of their career.

Truthfully, it is not necessarily the politicians or the process.  It is us, the Republic, who are not doing our jobs.  We seldom “fact check” statements made in the election cycle.    We   no longer have our old trusted safety nets; the integrity of the Walter Cronkite’s’, Peter Jennings or Woodward and Bernstein’s fighting for truth on our behalf. They are no longer there to explain in an unbiased fashion, how government procedure works or the constitutional laws candidates statements violate. As a public, I am not even sure we know to ask for these things anymore, of either ourselves or our reporters.

I recently watched a 2012 clip of former Supreme Court  Justice David Souter talk about how dangerous it is to not know Civics. When the people no longer know whose job solves what problems it gives an opening for an individual to rise up claiming he alone has all the answers. It scary to see how well his words describe what has happened in this election four years later.

All the more reason to regain our ability to  realize issues are bigger than what can fit in a sound bite. Large problems have many affected parts all of which need to be considered. It takes a collaborative mindset and experience of many,  to find a workable solution. Understanding the limits of which each office has toward that solution would go a long way to candidates having more realistic statements during the election.

By election day it seems we are numb from all the outrageous rhetoric.  To the extent, we shrug our shoulders when our officials obstruct governing for their party’s agenda.  We accept the fact we are not being faithfully represented.  We are certainly not thinking through the damage  “signed pledges of party loyalty” does to our country as a whole. How it takes away our elected official’s power and ability to use their critical thinking skills to serve us.  Upon hearing about said pledge we do not demand it be removed  nor call for more transparency. What is wrong with us?

“Finally whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we as of you”

– John F Kennedy

When did we give up so much of our power, elected officials are not afraid of the American Public’s anger in deliberately obstructing  the business of governing? Refusing to hold Supreme Court vacancies for congress’ own personal interests.  How can we stand by and allow our President be refused a congressional audience regarding the budget? What happened to do what is best for the country? When the did voice of the people become so quiet…..hold on I need to post this great selfie to Instagram….ok, where was I?   Where is our level of engagement?  Has our lack of critical thinking left us powerless to demand better of our elected officials?

Which brings to me the often quoted John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech. I have found myself often thinking of some important phrases of that speech. However, President Kennedy’s closing remarks are often overshadowed by the more famous quote made just prior, yet they seem correct for this day and age: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.” 

Are your elected officials living up to their end of the bargain?