We all know the cliche: "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". If we know this and believe it to be true then when it comes to the election cycle we're definitely insane.
Every year we're bombarded with advertising that's mostly negative. We get our full share of speculation from the various media pundits and because we're special we get to hear the candidates debate issues that someone else decided were important for us to listen to. Then there's the telephone solicitations, bulk mailings, and if we're lucky the door to door visits. All of this leads up to the culminating event, Election Day.
And then what?
Candidates get elected, some of us are happy and some of us aren't. Then we sit back and wait another year for the cycle to begin again. In the meantime we complain that our elected officials aren't doing the job we elected them to do. Do we really think just voting for a candidate is enough? Are we being naive to expect them to do their job and get it done? We may not want to hear it but a career politician"s primary objective is to get reelected. It's the reason why they call themselves career politicians. Politics is their job and they don't want to be unemployed. This is why they stay in constant fundraising mode. They need to replenish the "war chest" for the next cycle.
We need to do a better job of holding our elected officials accountable. We must remind them that we're the ones who put them in office and the ones who can vote them out. We need to be actively involved in the political process.
Here are some things you can do:
A few weeks ago many folks in New York City were in an uproar. First because a young man, who lives with his mom in Corona, Queens, is studying engineering at the New York City College of Technology, and has a work-study job was detained by law enforcement stemming from the purchase of a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys. Second because Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter refused to speak out on the issue. Jay-Z is launching a signature collection at Barneys and is receiving pressure to dissociate himself from Barneys.
For reasons I'm sure are different than Jay-Z's I chose not to make any comments until I saw how this whole thing played out. As I expected, in our world of instant gratification and information overload, this story is now buried somewhere in cyber space.
That doesn't mean the story is no longer newsworthy or there aren't some serious dynamics worthy of discussion. It only means the "wow factor" and the controversy the media was expecting to come out of it did not materialize.
Succumbing to the pressure Jay-Z finally commented on this issue:
"I move and speak based on facts and not emotion. I haven’t made any comments because I am waiting on facts and the outcome of a meeting between community leaders and Barneys. Why am I being demonized, denounced and thrown on the cover of a newspaper for not speaking immediately? The negligent, erroneous reports and attacks on my character, intentions, and the spirit of this collaboration have forced me into a statement I didn’t want to make without the full facts." --Life and Times: A Statement from Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.