This is not the first time we've been pissed off. This is not the first time our elected officials have failed us. Remember the government shutdown in 1995? I do. I was fresh out of the Marine Corps and still living in the D.C. area at the time. And just like last time, there is a lot of blame and BS being slung around; but in the end, it’s the American populace that ends up covered in pooh.
I've read and listened to a ridiculous number of opinions regarding the government shut down from throngs of people who readily point the finger outward. The Right is blaming the Left. The President is blaming Congress. Congress is blaming the President. Voters are blaming both Congress and the President. The blame game in itself is nothing new. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty par for the course. We can’t help it if politics have become more important than the government doing its job…..right???
How about we try something different this time? Take that finger that’s pointing out, and turn it inward. Or if that makes you uncomfortable, keep your finger pointed out, but go look in a mirror. Either way, doesn't matter to me as long as you do it. All this bickering and finger pointing reminds me of that song about a bunch of little kids who stole the cookies out of the cookie jar but none of them are willing to come clean. Each kid blames the next one in line. I realize that compared to many other countries, our country is the juvenile. We are a lot younger in terms of the age of our country; however, that doesn't give our leaders license to act like a bunch of spoiled brats who want the reward without any of the work. But I digress. Let’s get back to who’s to blame. You.
You remember the old saying that says something about stones and glass houses? There’s another one that mentions a pot and a kettle too. Yep, that’s right. You are to blame. You are a part of the problem. No. Not just a part of the problem. You ARE the problem. That’s the downside. The upside? You are also the solution – but only if you choose to be.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. First, I need you to understand and accept that you are, in fact, to blame. Then, we can look at what you can do to clean up this mess of yours. Here are 6 reasons why you are to blame.
1. You vote for the party, not the person.
Be honest here. Are you one of those people who vote based on whether or not the candidate is a Republican or Democrat? If so, you are definitely at the core of the problem. Voting for someone simply because of a label is not only stupid (yes, I said stupid), but it’s dangerous. It shows just how uninformed you really are about the individual you are willing to put into a position of power. Voting for someone because of the (D) or (R) behind his or her name makes no more sense than voting for someone because he or she is black, or white, or male, or female, or straight, or gay, or Catholic, or Baptist. I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. You might as well vote for someone because he or she has blue eyes, or wears your favorite brand of clothing, or listens to your favorite band. At the end of the day, these labels of Democrat or Republican mean nothing if you don’t know anything else about that candidate. The amazing thing is that The Gallup Organization recently reported, “Most Americans are not ideologically extreme. Based on over 15,000 interviews conducted in September , 9% of Americans define themselves as ‘very conservative’ and a smaller 5% are ‘very liberal.’ The biggest slice of the public is ‘moderate’ -- 37% -- while 28% are conservative and 18% are liberal. In other words, Americans, based on these self-classifications, hew more to the middle.” In light of this, why do we continue to operate under the guise that we must vote Dem or Rep when in reality most of us are a little of both? I’ll tell you why. We have been brainwashed to believe these are our only options. And we have allowed it to happen. How did we allow this to happen? Yep, that’s your fault too. Keep reading.
2. You don’t have the right “hiring” mindset
Imagine you are the owner of a business and you need to hire an employee to help manage that business. You need someone who can oversee the budget, make sure you’re investing and managing your company’s money wisely. You need someone who can work well with others, build working relationships rather than divisive ones. Someone who has the proven experience in doing the job well, but is also open to sharing ideas and serious about considering ideas from others. What steps would you take to ensure you hired the best candidate for the job? You know that you need to find a person who is competent and dependable and has a proven track record of positive employment experiences. You do want your business to be successful. You’re not a complete idiot after all. You wouldn’t want to hire someone who would not be able to handle the demands of the position, blame others for his or her mistakes, and drag your business into the ground as a result. So, to ensure you hire the right person, you would review resumes and conduct an in-depth search to find the right person for the job. Once you whittled your choices down to a handful of job candidates, you would then conduct interviews with each of those candidates in order to get to know each of them better, to find the right fit. Deciding who to vote for is no different. You are, in a sense, the hiring manager for a huge company called the U.S. of A. Now, think like a hiring manager and do your research before making that decision for whom to vote. Notice I said “think like a hiring manager.” The problem is that either you don’t know how to think like a hiring manager, or you’re just too lazy to do the job of the hiring manager, or even worse, you think you know how to think like a hiring manager, but you’re really clueless. I have another name for you. Keep reading.
3. You’re a hypocrite
Going back to the business analogy above, what questions would you ask the job candidates to answer when conducting their interviews? Would you ask the candidates during the interview about their religious beliefs? What about their age? How long they've been married? How many times they've been divorced? Were they ever unfaithful to their spouse? Whether they vote Democrat or Republican? The correct answer is a resounding, “Hell, no!” And if this isn't your answer, then it should be. Why? Most importantly, it’s against the law to ask questions like these during a job interview. Consider this. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the government agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws where employment is concerned. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older. You know, we’re very lucky to have these federal laws to protect our equal employment rights. I’m willing to bet the first thing you would do if you knew for certain that you were not chosen for a job specifically because of your skin color, or because of your sex or gender, or because of your religious beliefs, you would go through the proper channels to expose that company’s illegal hiring practices. After all, these factors (i.e. labels) that would be used to describe you have absolutely nothing to do with whether or not you are qualified to actually do the job itself. Admit it. Finding out you weren't hired because of one of the factors listed above would really piss you off. Why then, do you carry out these same types of discriminatory hiring practices when it’s your turn to vote for a political candidate? Dig deeper. Stop being a hypocrite and discriminating against and voting for political candidates over factors that have nothing to do with their ability to do the job. As a matter of fact, stop thinking of yourself as a voter and start thinking of yourself as a hiring manager, but the kind that asks the right (and legal) types of questions. The ones that actually matter.
4. You don’t hold the candidates you voted for personally responsible
Sticking with the business analogy, let’s say you made your decision and made an offer of employment to one or more of the job candidates. Perhaps you have a lot of positions to fill. They accepted your offer and began working for you the next week. Would you just completely forget about those people you just hired? Would you never check in with them to make sure the jobs are getting done? Would you “leave them be” and “trust” that they are taking care of business just as you wanted them to? I mean, you made the decision to hire them based on the promises of productivity and their expressed loyalty to you and the company, so wouldn't you, as the owner of the business, as the hiring manager, want to ensure that they are following through on these promises? Sure you would. It would be senseless not to. So let me ask you this. When was the last time you checked up on the political candidates you voted for? Do you monitor their work? Do you review their actions and decisions based on the promises and guarantees they made? Or do you just “trust” they’re doing what they said they would do? If you’re so unhappy with the way things are going (and according to the polls and the low approval ratings for the President as well as for Congress, the odds are that you are unhappy), start holding the candidates you voted for personally responsible. Start monitoring their activities and tracking their voting records. Hold the ones you voted for accountable starting today, not tomorrow. And don’t just ASSume that they are doing a satisfactory job. I mean really, if they were doing their jobs, would we even be having this conversation? But being the bad business owner you are, not only do you not check up on your employees, but you go one step further and actually pretend that they've done nothing wrong when something is brought to your attention. This brings me to the next point as to why you’re to blame.
5. You make excuses for your candidates
This is the absolute worst. Fine, you made your decision and hired the person you thought was the best person for the job. At this point, let’s forget about the reasons why you hired this person/people. The reasons you hired them no longer matter because they now have the job. They are earning a very nice salary and you are signing the checks. But what if it came to your attention that the person you hired was not doing a good job? Let’s say you've been monitoring this person for a while and you are not happy with the quality of his or her work so you decide it’s time to sit down with this person and conduct an employee review. You need to discuss the lack of follow through and bad decision-making before your company becomes compromised. Imagine for a moment that when you sat this person down for the review, he or she actually blamed everyone else for the lack of progress or poor quality of work? In short, he or she took no personal responsibility at all for the poor performance. As a matter of fact, this person you hired blamed everyone else in the office for the problems. To make things worse, several people you hired have now decided that because they can’t get along and agree on matters, they can’t, or won’t, complete their work assignments. As the owner of the business, you know that this lack of cooperation, lack of personal responsibility, lack of initiative, lack of teamwork is what will cause your business to crumble. What would you do? I know what I would do, but what would you do? Ignore it and just hope it works itself out? Well, good luck with that. Or perhaps you would make excuses for them. After all, they can’t help it that the other employees are behaving badly and thus, making them behave the same way. You know, this reminds me of the lectures I used to give my kids whenever they got in trouble at school. As soon as they started with, “Well [insert random kid name here] did it first,” I would hold up my hand for them to be quiet and quickly let them know that I’m not interested in what the other kid(s) were doing. “You cannot control how others act and how others behave,” I would say. “But you can control how you act and how you behave.” If I can expect that much accountability and responsibility out of my children, you bet your ass I will expect that much accountability and responsibility out of my employees. But what about you? Would you be willing to give your employees a warning to shape up and a pink slip if they didn't Or would you accept their excuses and make excuses for them? What about the people you voted for? You still making excuses for them? Still turning a blind eye? Or are you going to finally come to terms with your bad hiring decision and demand they either shape up or give them the boot come election time?
6. You are brainwashed
The saddest part of all of this is that fact that Americans have become so used to hearing the blame game that we have become complacent with it. We have been trained to accept that we are stuck with a two-party system. That this is just the way things are. And because of this lie, we continue to ask ourselves what can we do but vote for the “lesser of two evils,” even though we know that logically this does not make any sense. You have been brainwashed to the point that when you stand in that stall to cast your vote, even if you actually considered voting outside the “norm,” voting for a non-Dem or a non-Rep, you feel the illogical pressure to vote for one of them anyway. You have been told that if you don’t, then you are in essence, “throwing your vote away.” If you continue to accept and believe what the two parties that are currently in power want you to accept and believe, then you will continue to be the one to blame for this mess. You’re just too brainwashed to even know that you’re to blame.
Remember what I said earlier about holding your candidates accountable and responsible for their actions? Well, now it’s your turn. Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for your own voting actions. Acknowledge and admit that you are to blame for this mess. Get your head out of your ass, or the sand, or wherever you are hiding it, and pay attention to what your candidates are doing in Washington. Know their actions and voting record. Put your employees who are not performing to your standards on notice today. Give them the written warning. When election time comes around, don’t listen to the commercials. They’re all full of invalid arguments and BS anyway. Don’t listen to the scare tactics. You’re not throwing a vote away when you’re voting for the person you truly believe is the best qualified candidate, despite their affiliation with any political party. Voting for someone because of political party affiliation rather than individual qualifications is truly throwing your vote away. Don’t assume that because a candidate has a label (D) or (R) that his or her values are aligned with your own or that his or her loyalty will be to you, the voter. When you go to cast your next vote, and you've seen that your employee didn't meet your expectations, then give him or her the pink slip. Otherwise, you’re still to blame.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
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