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The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetime

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

By Stacey Roberts

The candidates running for office and the political machines behind them are always the ones telling us what the next election is about.

Like the traveling vacuum cleaner salesman who dumps dirt on your carpet then sucks it up with the fancy new machine he brought with him, our political candidates present themselves as the only possible solution to the problem they just told you about. Even if it’s a problem you didn’t know you had.

You might be struggling with the fact that your first stop after checking out of the hospital is bankruptcy court. It might be that you think thirty-two trillion dollars of national debt is a huge deal. You might wonder if anyone is doing anything about the fact that twenty-two combat veterans commit suicide every day. You wonder what it costs to buy that candidate’s vote once he’s elected, and who’s writing that check.

Nonsense, he tells you. This election is about abortion, climate change, guns, immigration, and taxes. It’s about Russia. Or China. It’s about the other side’s nefarious agenda, whatever it is. It’s about money.

He’s right about that last part. Government is about money—how it gets raised, how it gets spent, and how much of it in the right pocket can sway legislation away from the public interest to a very private narrow one. But that’s not what he meant. Political ads these days talk about how money is important, the other side is going to take it away from you, but their side will make sure you keep it.

As if that’s all we could possibly care about.

What would happen if we told the candidates what the election was about? What if we said that this election was about term limits for Congress, or eliminating all campaign and party donations other than those made by individuals, capped at an annual limit? What if this election was about the massive budget deficits that are just par for the course these days or that it will take longer than America has existed to pay off our national debt? What if we only voted for people who would dig into the way we pay for healthcare and made it actually help sick people? What if this election was about getting a Congress of statesmen instead of the pack of whiny toddlers running the Capitol? What if we told them that unless they supported a national agenda instead of a partisan one, we would vote them out?

Impossible, he replies. This is the most important election of our lifetimes. Our entire way of life is at stake.

Just like last time.

So we do what they tell us, pulling the lever not for candidates themselves, but for the little ‘D’ or ‘R’ next to their names. We make it possible for our so-called leaders to become pliant partisan foot soldiers who aren’t following our orders. We make it so candidates and elected officials no longer have to do the hard work of campaigning or governing or legislating. They just wait for the party men and the money men to tell them how to vote on that bill they have no intention of reading.

Until the voters get back in the driver’s seat and start telling the parties and candidates what our elections are about and turn away from blind party loyalty, we’ll be stuck with the same old unsolved problems that we’ve been stuck with for decades. The same old people who have been in office most of our lives will slouch their way back to Washington, do nothing we actually want them to be doing, and send us the bill anyway.

Stacey Roberts is the author of “No One Left But All Of Us” and the founder and executive director of the Valley Forge Project. He can be reached at

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