This has to do with voting … and what you do with that vote … and, well, getting involved.

I am calling it stepping up.

And I want to begin my thinking by sharing something I would like to give credit to a Fareed Zhakaria interview on his show (but this is a guess because I was remiss in writing down the source when writing the thought):

Interview Q: What is the greatest threat to the united states today?

Answer: 1. Radical Islam. 2. China. 3. Congress.

Interviewer Response: No. it is when the best people refuse to get involved. When the best women and men we need to fight those three threats listed above stay on the sidelines. That is our greatest, and gravest, threat.

I agree.

The biggest threat America faces today is the best people stay on the sidelines. They do not get involved. They just won’t step up … or step in to the game.

What do I mean?

Stepping up part 1.

Scarlett Johansson (and I assume some younger republicans did the same I just didn’t see them) didn’t call it stepping up but she certainly, in a charming slightly nervous way, suggested people had a responsibility to be involved … at minimum … by voting.

She is correct.

And I worry about this. Because I do not believe voter turnout will be as high as 2008 <or let’s just say as high as it should be>. And that our best people will stay on the sidelines. And not just the smartest but the young.

Frankly … the young are our best. Best hope. Best future. Best whatever word you want to add.

And I fear they either:

a.) don’t care because it is just politics, or

b.) have decided because they did vote in 2008 and they didn’t see the change they hoped for … that voting doesn’t matter (or create change).

I will partially address b. in stepping up part 2.

My concern was crystallized when I was at the gym the other day and they were showing video of the Clinton speech. Of course because it was a gym there was no sound but there was good ole Bill dominating the screen and gesturing <his lips were moving too>.  A young 20something and a mid20something stopped for a moment and said “I wonder what happened and what Bill Clinton is talking about.” Whew. I don’t think they are a minority. They had no clue the conventions were going on and frankly could care less even if they did.

And this is where I give celebrities who get involved with politics a break.

Not all celebrities are as articulate with regard to their thoughts as Eva Longoria or Dave Grohl … but who cares. They are stepping up and suggesting people who are involved with their celebrity status <who think they are cool> to step up and be involved in the discussion and issues. You know something …. I could care less if it is shameless borrowed interest if it gets people off the sidelines.

Scarlett Johansson says “I am not going to tell you who to vote for…I am just telling you to register and vote.”

Amen sister.

Obama even said in his speech with all the noise it becomes easy to tune it out …even he gets tired of it. Americans, in general, should never feel so helpless that they believe their vote doesn’t matter. Whether they are on the winning side or the losing side it’s about participating and not standing on the sidelines.

This goes double (ok …exponentially) for the young people. We need people involved in the election and the choices that need to be made. Get off the sidelines. Because frankly you are our ‘best people.’


Stepping up part 2.

Obama did an interesting dance on this part of stepping up in his speech. And it is a dangerous dance for a politician.

In fact he teetered across the line once. He used a phrase in the “book of banned phrases in marketing” <no … there is not really a book> … the phrase is ‘personal responsibility.” In other words … he actually suggested in a nationally televised speech that people, yes, people had some work to do.

Fortunately I am not a politician.

Therefore I will talk about personal responsibility.

No marketer/company uses the phrase in communications.

It is typically the kiss of death.

People do not want to hear it.

nowadays it seems like the concept of personal responsibility <or 95% of it> gets transferred with the cash in the transaction. In fact … if you can find a black light and hold up a dollar bill under it I believe you will find that the Latin ‘E Pluribus Unum’ <which means ‘out of many, one’> on the dollar bill actually says “this transfers responsibility to you once you accept it.”

Sure. As soon as a person pays cash, writes a check and, yes, pays taxes they want “goods in return.” Uhm. With no if, ands or buts … or added responsibility.

What you may not realize is that exactly the same time … all the while … every company is screaming and banging their heads against the walls somewhere in the depths of their organizations saying “if you use it, maintain it, prepare it properly it will be better, last longer, taste better, cost you less in the future …” <even Coca-Cola wants to scream at the bonehead, who complains despite having only spend 100 pennies that his Coke tasted flat, that maybe if you had chilled it slightly rather than drink it close to boiling temperature it may have tasted better>.

You see this supplier desire to tell you this in any service industry and many goods industries … healthcare, pest control, automotive, pharmaceutical, etc.

All want to scream that if you do stuff <something> you will find higher value.

But. That is asking someone to do work when they have already paid something.

Most times companies get sneaky even if they have the brass balls to come close to the issue. Ritz Carlton outlines personal responsibility in their credo “ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” They are saying “yeah … you are paying me a shitload of money to be a guest here and I will bend over backwards to serve you as you deserve … but your responsibility is to act like a lady & gentleman.”


That is the personal responsibility aspect in a consumer goods & services example.

But this isn’t about when you buy something or even whether Barack should or shouldn’t have used the “phrase that typically doesn’t pay” but rather this is about truth and personal responsibility and stepping up.

Yeah. We pay taxes. And it is painful.

And at the same time we are sometimes quite flippant with regard to “your tax dollars at work.”

Well. Dollars don’t work on their own <at least I haven’t seen a bunch of them chugging along all by their lonesome making shit lately>.

Voting is one stepping up … assuming some personal responsibility.

But just because you voted (or didn’t vote) doesn’t mean you are done (sorry).

It is an ongoing “we” thing. I have been struggling to find the right word to use here so I will use the harshest wrong word and then backtrack – we have become lazy.

And I don’t mean in a working hard way of lazy … anyone struggling is most likely paddling hard. This is solution to problem lazy. What I mean is that we want someone to do something to just make it right. We vote.

We say “ok, we voted you in so fix it.”

And then we wait for it to be better for us.


Lazy isn’t the right word (but it sure got your attention).

Maybe it is impatient or “immediate satisfaction” directed. Look. A government policy, or initiative, is just that … a government policy or initiative.

What we do with it is up to us.

We can use it to our advantage, abuse it in terms of self interest or ignore it assuming we will benefit at the effort of others.

You are not done just because you voted.

Do not misconstrue “bigger government” for “they are going to do it for me.”

The easiest way to insure less government involvement? Step up. The more we the people do the less a government will do. it is exactly like a see saw <despite the fact each party wants to suggest the other wants to weight one end of the see saw>.

Any government (republican or democrat) recognizes government is an enabler. And, just as in life situations, enablers are involved in different degrees depending on the situation.

And what is the most important factor in deciding the degree? The one who is being enabled (and ultimately how self sufficient their sustainability is).

My friends … this is a ‘we the people’ thing. That is personal responsibility.

That’s us continually stepping up.

Thought I would just remind us of that.

It ain’t just gonna happen. We need to be involved. And step up.

Is it work? Sure.

Is it maybe harder in an already hard life? Sure.

Is there a reward? Sure. And it is not just money. It is that whole citizen thing Obama talked about. I didn’t like the way he used the word but his point is, and will always be, valid in America.

We are a unique country with a unique character … complex intertwining of just do it and we the people. And in the end we are as separate as fingers yet one hand <Booker Washington reference> raised in a fist of pride, dignity, honor and integrity.

It may sound like patriotic tripe but in the end … we is what we is.

And we like it. And we like feeling it. We just gotta step up and do it.

Which means we may have to do something we do not like … assume some personal responsibility.

E Pluribus Unum.

Out of many, one.

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Written by Bruce