Why we have to care about the larger community and politics even when it’s too much

You pay taxes. Your kids or future generations want to live in a better world. Care about the larger community for them.

I get it. The political game is too much these days. We’re overworked, over-stressed, overwhelmed with just getting through another day.

The last thing we want to do is come home from work and try to combat the latest shenanigans being done in our names by politicians who are mostly carrying the water of the elite, namely themselves and their major campaign donors. We don’t want to read the latest horror story from the White House since it’s liable to make us angry enough to fire off a tweet or Facebook post that could enrage and offend others. Or to call a political representative’s office to complain on the phone. Or to get off our couch and lift a hand to try to do something to make someone’s life a little better.

And that takes us away from tending to family matters, to community and religious duties, to personal time to refresh and uplift our senses, or to just be entertained by sports or TV shows or video games or live streams or cat memes or whatever else.

But the hard facts of life here is that everyone pays taxes, whether it’s to the local, state, or federal governments, or all of the above. Even homeless people pay when they buy food or cigarettes with the coins they collect.

When I pay for something, even if it’s a $1 roll of paper towels, I try to make sure I am getting value. I work hard and know how hard I had to work to make that buck.

So when I pay 35 to 45 percent of my income to governments, I want to make sure I and everyone else who pays are getting the proper value. I want to make sure that money is spent wisely, not on weekend golf junkets and $10,000 toilet seat lids.

Ultimately, I want my kids to live in a better world than I did, one in which they don’t have to struggle as much to survive. One problem is the cutthroat, materialistic drive to get ahead at the expense of everyone else, to be a have and not a have-not. The younger generation seems less materialistic than the older one, so perhaps they will help forge a way out.

You look at the headlines and it’s hard to be optimistic about the future, as much as I’d like to be. I can’t even get that giddy about Roger Stone, a longtime lobbyist for Donald Trump and 2016 Trump campaign “dirty trickster” who had done that for campaigns since Richard Nixon’s in the 1970s, being found guilty of seven felonies, including obstructing a congressional inquiry and lying to investigators under oath.

Stone started working for Trump in the 1990s as a casino lobbyist. In 2000, Stone set up a fake group funded by Trump to run racist ads against Native American owners of a proposed casino in New York’s Catskill Mountains that could compete against Trump’s Atlantic City casinos. Their campaign warned of “increased crime,” violence, and other ills that the Indian casino would supposedly bring. Trump not only payed the bills but approved Stone’s racist ads. A state commission stopped their campaign and forced Trump to make a rare public apology, but the Native American casino never got built, reportedly due more to internal disputes.

Stone also worked with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the 2016 campaign to discredit Hillary Clinton, according to evidence from his trial. In the months before the 2016 election, Stone would brief the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks’ plans to release stolen emails to damage Clinton’s campaign. WikiLeaks’ ties to Russia have long been documented.

As we wind into the abyss that could include a messy political impeachment, such plots and ties are difficult to follow, even for those who are paid to do so and can spend almost every working minute doing so. It’s easier to get lost in a hobby or another outlet — some around me say I get that way about sports, which is my main entertainment outlet. But it’s important to set aside some time deciphering what is really happening, so when it comes time to vote you can make the best decisions. You have to find people on social media you trust and read their takes.

Yet in the end, when roughly half of voters believe Trump’s “fake news” charges and call for him to pardon Stone and five other associates who have been convicted or pleaded guilty, where does that lead the community? Mostly to another division where talking about the events leads nowhere positive.

Some say the political landscape has always been divisive, and we are merely seeing it more in our face with social media. That may be true to a point, but we still have to find ways to work on the big issues that confront us, including health care, climate change, and paying for college.

It may seem overwhelming, even impossible at times. But we have to keep trying. The plight of future generations demands that we try.

Written for 45+ newspapers/mags. Written some books — see https://www.amazon.com/Kevin-J.-Shay/e/B004BCQRTG. Visited 48 states, 30+ countries.

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