Democratic stability depends on having faith in our elected officials. Certain problematic strategies run rampant. There’s no reassurance in listening to ill-conceived rhetoric and being forced to make false choices on important matters.

We are all connected to each other and must make pragmatic decisions on reality’s terms. Open dialogue is not being subjugated; it’s being challenged in large part due to its falsity, in smaller parts to its hilarity and reductivism.

Merit-based education will take us away from ideological camp warfare and to a living consensus where all are heard but only the healthy arguments prevail in directing public policy. However, we must greatly reduce the frequency in which gamesmanship is used to spearhead political activities.

We must all work to recognize who is running for office to serve, inspire, innovate, foster and engineer a thriving future; and who is running for office to seize power, dominate, author rhetorical narratives as a defense for inaction (or to mire us in political obsoletism) and “govern” alone with no plans to initiate acceptable policy.

The change occurs when we take a population-wide step toward showing a general — yet robust and overtly intentional — interest in politics. We must recognize how important the entire election process is and be wary of ploys to silence through disenfranchisement.

We give elected officials permission to govern, but we must make it our mission to only give support to candidates who are transparent messengers with actual long-term goals for the general contentment of all represented.

John Heinz is a resident of Columbia with a longtime interest in politics and its proper function in a democractic society.

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