When vot­ing, re­mem­ber that we’ve suc­ceeded when work­ing to­gether

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Kent Smith, Wal­dorf

I voted to­day. I com­mend the local elec­tion board for the fine non-par­ti­san man­ner in which the early vot­ing took place at the [La Plata] fire sta­tion. I was also proud of the civil way my fel­low ci­ti­zens qui­etly lined up to pa­tiently wait to ex­er­cise their rights. I hope every­one gets out to vote this elec­tion.

I am very com­fort­able with my vote, es­pe­cially at the na­tional level. I have watched the can­di­dates closely for many months, ex­am­ined their records, lis­tened to what they and their sup­port­ers have said. I watched all the de­bates and lis­tened or read to hours of com­men­tary, some of which ac­tu­ally was in­for­ma­tive.

I am re­tired. I worked hard and achieved some mea­sure of suc­cess. I raised a fam­ily here in Charles County. I have been pleas­antly sur­prised by how this county has evolved over the past sev­eral decades. A triple-A bond rating, while see­ing steady im­prove­ments in the county’s in­fra­struc­ture? Wow. I don’t like taxes much more than the next per­son, but I do like see­ing the po­lice cruis­ers around, good roads, well-main­tained parks and other public ameni­ties in a com­mu­nity with gen­er­ally de­cent and im­prov­ing schools. I also am com­fort­able with the sound and sight of Air Force jets go­ing to Joint Base An­drews and Navy planes to Pax River Naval Air Sta­tion.

I just don’t see the na­tion in cri­sis the way some do. I have trav­eled ex­ten­sively dur­ing my ca­reer, and I see mostly good things and good peo­ple around the coun­try. We’ve gone through some trou­bling eco­nomic times a few years ago, but we’ve seen steady but slow im­prove­ment. More peo­ple are work­ing, more peo­ple have health in­sur­ance, wages for or­di­nary work­ers are ris­ing, and most peo­ple — around here, at least — just want to get along and get on with their lives. I don’t see the ha­tred, the di­vi­sive­ness that fills the head­lines. Oh, I know it is there, all right, but my world, thank God, is pretty good.

I do not trust the main­stream me­dia to de­ter­mine my choice for me. They are too busy chas­ing the lat­est shiny thing to give us much un­der­stand­ing of what is re­ally go­ing on. Most of the me­dia are just parts of gi­ant cor­pora- tions, in­ter­ested in gen­er­at­ing prof­its rather than truth. They fo­cus on the neg­a­tive, ex­cept when it comes to gen­er­at­ing ad­ver­tis­ing dol­lars to get us to buy the lat­est things we do not re­ally need. They are the voice of the con­sumer cul­ture, envy, greed and the wor­ship of things.

I don’t trust the po­lit­i­cal preach­ers ei­ther. The good Lord is the fa­ther and creator of us all and is de­cid­edly non-par­ti­san. He is above party and above na­tions. His way is hum­ble com­pas­sion and ser­vice to the less for­tu­nate. His way is love and for­give­ness to in­di­vid­u­als who seek Him and are will­ing to serve Him by serv­ing others. Re­li­gion is not about po­lit­i­cal power or ha­tred of others, and it is cer­tainly not about wealth. The po­lit­i­cal preach­ers are driv­ing peo­ple from the church and away from God, and are wreck­ing this na­tion.

I still trust most of the peo­ple in gov­ern­ment. They are my neigh­bors and my friends. I was one for al­most 40 years. I saw how they work. I’ve worked with good politi­cians from both par­ties who were hon­estly con­cerned about their con­stituents and the na­tion. I have seen more than a few of the other types as well, those who were cap­tured by ego, self-in­ter­est and nar­row-minded de­vo­tion to cor­po­rate masters or rigid ide­olo­gies. Still, most of the time, things even­tu­ally got done more or less the right way.

So, when you vote, think about our her­itage as Amer­i­cans. We are unique be­cause we have con­tin­u­ously tried to ex­tend free­dom and lib­erty to all, not just those orig­i­nally qual­i­fied in our found­ing doc­u­ments. We are unique be­cause we have tried to value di­ver­sity, and have drawn strength from our dif­fer­ences. We’ve been bet­ter when we tried to live our re­li­gion rather than forc­ing it on some­body else. We’ve had some spec­tac­u­lar fail­ures, but we are still work­ing on it. We have suc­ceeded when we have worked to­gether (“E Pluribus Unum”).

We can make progress only when we be­have re­spect­fully and when we re­spect others. One na­tion, un­der God, with lib­erty and jus­tice for all.

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