A few years ago I was a Cubmaster for my son’s Cub Scout Pack. As the Cubmaster, I controlled our schedule of events, including what big events we held once a month at our Pack Meetings. One month my Den Leaders (adult leaders for Scout groups at different ages) agreed to the theme of “Emergency Preparation.” We divided the Scouts into stations. At one station, the Scouts learned basic first aid from one of the parents that was a nurse. At another, an energetic Den Leader taught the Scouts how to build a stretcher, and the Scouts raced with their Den Leaders in their makeshift stretcher. But the best station, by far, was the fire fighting. We had a legitimate fire fighter chief as a Den Leader, and he brought out a fire fighting propane tank and fire extinguishers, and taught our Scouts how to properly put out fires.
It was awesome, and let me tell you, the Scouts putting out real propane-fueled fires was the talk of the small town for almost two weeks, beating out even the common subjects of Minecraft and Pokemon-Go. I still have the coolest night-time photos of 7 year old boys putting out propane fires with a fire extinguisher.
Not everyone was impressed. That same night the church we were borrowing had choir practice, and the older church ladies had to park twenty feet farther than their normal parking spot because of our setup. The next day, I got word that the church was not happy and was sending a nasty email to our council. Thinking quickly, I posted the most awesome pictures of those events on Facebook and tagged the church in the post. It went viral, with almost 3000 views in a town that only had 5000 people, many of them members of the same church. I reaped my success, with no email to council and a mild rebuke to me from the church, which I settled with an apology and promise to do better in the future.
Our Scouting program that year did all sorts of awesome stuff, and the Scouts couldn’t keep quiet with their friends. Yet the nasty comments from the church ladies still bothered me. Later I realized that some people just never wanted change. It didn’t matter that Scouts were learning skills, or that the church got a positive nod because of their support. Nope, the fact that someone had to park a mere twenty feet away meant the whole thing was rubbish.
We’re seeing that with government. When we decide to move EUCOM headquarters out of Germany and into Poland, instead of discussion about keeping Russia at bay, we hear about the economic impact to regions in Germany. When we continue to have shipyard issues and can’t build or fix the majority of Navy ships on time or within budget, we don’t ask “Who should be fired,” but instead just suck up the cost and move on. Government is happy to repeat the past, no matter how out of date it is, because its the easy button approach.
But as time and technology march on, government wants to do more of the same. We want to use the same crappy setup for acquiring weapons that continues to not work. While Amazon has been drone delivering for years, we’re just now figuring out that’s a good idea. And if you’ve ever logged into a Navy personnel website, it looks like a 5 year old built it.
If you haven’t already, you’re going to vote on Tuesday. You’ll pick from a variety of candidates, and not just in the Presidential election. I implore you to look at their actual voting records and accomplishments. Plenty of people from all parties are all talk and no action. They are content to ride the government wave of mediocrity, never being held to account for so much money and time spent with so little to show for it. If you want more of the same, more ineffective government that you pay so much for, then voting for these people is easy.
If you instead want effective use of your tax dollars, vote differently. Government isn’t inherently evil, but it can be inclined into a passive nature that turns a blind eye to scandal, fraud and abuse. Voting in people that challenge this nature and demand government be better is what brings real change. These people are often the quiet leaders, spending the hours reading the fine print and rewriting it to make more sense. They aren’t always eloquent, but they are effective.
If you want effective government, you vote for these people. They aren’t the ones whining about walking the extra twenty feet.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.