Get off the sidelines and get in the game!

In the gameWhen Abraham Lincoln said that the “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” he was not making a pronouncement of fact. He was issuing a call to action. 

If we want to see a government of the people, by the people and for the people, then WE must “highly resolve” to “take increased devotion to that cause” – the cause of freedom.

Frankly, politics is a team sport and we need you. We need you to be in the game and we need you to stay in the game. More than ever before, we need you to not stay on the sidelines, leaving politics in the hands of “others”.  It reminds me of this quote by Plato: ““The heaviest penalty for declining to [be involved in politics] is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” This state – like this nation – did not begin with I the person. It began with We the People – and that means all of us.

For over 150 years, We the People of Utah have come together to solve problems, to create communities and to serve each other. Utah is built on faith and family, on hard work and innovation, on being wise with our resources and caring for our neighbors. Speaking up on political issues is part of that great heritage.

Recently, religious leader Russell M Nelson challenged his listeners to “Speak up and speak out.” I think he means all of us, in many arenas, including politics. Voter participation has dropped in Utah. Speculation as to the reason is rampant and there is almost certainly not one simple answer.  However, I am not convinced it’s because we have an “unengaged electorate,” but rather that we have an electorate (that’s me and you) that is tired of talking points, spin and huge giant steps away from the “Big Tent” envisioned by Ronald Reagan.

I know all too well that political speech can leave us feeling frustrated.  We see that when all is said and done, much more is SAID than is ever DONE. Promises of miracles and tilting at windmills abound. There is far too much lecturing and far too little listening. Input from people “in the trenches” is an essential part of any good public policy but the people that public policies directly impact are too often left out of the discussion. Deeper dialogue and more meaningful communication would go a long way in looking for, working on and ultimately passing win-win solutions. Even if there is still disagreement, the process and the end result is better with more eyeballs, more input, more respectful listening. Instead, people are often told why a policy is good for them and they should just trust their elected officials. I don’t know about you, but to me, that is the antithesis of “by the people, for the people.”

Politics affect all aspects of our lives. So how do we truly embrace disruptive innovation and economic freedom while raising our families and serving our communities? How do we get involved in the political process while living busy lives?

Disruptive innovation

We live in a time where technological innovations deliver the impossible on an almost daily basis (a watch that gets email, tracks your calendar appointments AND your heartrate?!), when the world is shrinking and new ways to do things pop up all the time. Did you know, for example, that there are over 80 social media platforms? Who could have imagined 3-D printers for home use even five years ago? The speed of innovation can be dizzying.

Clayton Christensen is well-known for the phrase “disruptive innovation.” He defines it as: A technologically simple innovation in the form of a product, service, or business model that takes root in a tier of the market that is unattractive to the established leaders in an industry.

Sadly to some, “disruptive innovation” is just a nice sound-bite, because as soon as the disruption begins, so does the resistance and pushback.  Utah innovators still run into the status quo. Sometimes we call it crony capitalism. Sometimes we call it turf wars. No matter what we call it, though, it stymies growth and squashes competition. When those special favors are enacted into law, they codify inequality and lead to regulation that hinders and stifles new and emerging technologies, business practices and innovation. Three quick examples: Uber, Tesla and Waffle Love. All of them have new business models. All of them faced – or are still facing – resistance getting off the ground in Utah. Why?

Economic freedom

To me, economic freedom means if you work hard and play by the rules, you should be able to get ahead, not shut down by endless bureaucracy and nitpicking regulations. That applies to Waffle Love food trucks, Uber, Tesla, doTERRA and to Jestina Clayton, a Mom helping to put food on her table by braiding hair. People need to be engaged in meaningful work, without the government getting in the way.  Limited government allows people do what they do best – work hard, earn a living, pursue an education, innovate, raise their families, serve their communities and make a difference.

Getting in the game

Theodore Roosevelt once said: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

Get in the arena. We need you. We need you to be involved. The world runs on those who show up. We need your voice on public policy issues. We need your voice at the ballot box. We need your voice in political campaigns. We need you to speak your mind, in respectful ways and we need you to keep speaking your mind. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be involved before, now is a great time to start. If you already jumped in the arena, please stay. We need you.