Op-Ed

Want good government? First, you must believe in it

U.S. Capitol
U.S. Capitol National Park Service

Being on the road a lot lately has given me the chance to catch up with one of America’s favorite pastimes: talk radio.

There’s nothing quite like tuning the dial over to AM and listening to friends and neighbors get their two cents in. It’s engaging, informative and almost always gets me more than a few good laughs.

Lately I’ve heard accounts of everything from conspiracy theories down at the school board, hiking our taxes through the roof, to the interstate highway system being a government takeover of our lives.

While some of that may have been good for a laugh, one sad truth has become abundantly clear to me: From city hall to the White House and everywhere in between, Americans have lost faith in our government.

I suppose there are a lot of reasons why. I mean, being elected governor in Illinois (or county judge in some places) almost always ends in a retirement in the federal penitentiary.

People hear a lot about big corporate dollars and corrupt lobbyists who write all the laws behind the scenes and that by the time they get to the candidates you voted for they don’t even have the time to see what’s in them.

There’s a lot to be said for some of what’s wrong in the halls of power but there’s a lot more to be said about the people who are taking advantage of it to convince you that your government isn’t worth believing in any more.

Our society is growing more complicated by the day.

Institutionalization for the severely mentally ill has essentially become a thing of the past and our streets are now flooded with people who are a threat to themselves and others.

Anyone can download a file from the internet and 3D print an intricate weapon. That’s an incredible advancement but one that demands our collective action to ensure as little harm comes about as possible. But every time we see even a hint at some sort of reform on pressing issues, you can bet you’ll hear someone say, “well, it’s a slippery slope”

That’s a direct affront to American greatness. They’re essentially saying that we, as a people, cannot be trusted to come together and make conscious decisions to solve the problems we face.

America was derived from a holy boldness and courage that enabled ordinary men and women to confront the hardships in their world. Though they may have disagreed, they had an abundant faith in one another, and in reason that could be found only when they came together.

That faith has stood for over two centuries and has given the world the greatest republic known to man. But it is eroding.

Certainly it could be that a law could go too far, but that’s the beauty of it. Once it does, we have the privilege of holding our legislators to task. Is that a lot of work? You bet. But no one ever said that you got to be passive and enjoy the blessings of liberty. Quite the opposite, in fact.

As we continue to evolve in society and make strides the likes of which those who came before us could have never even imagined, we owe it to them and to ourselves to ensure we are building a society which can last. To take no action is the greatest threat of all.

As we take our next bold steps toward the horizons of tomorrow, I don’t fear my government, I revere it.

I believe wholeheartedly in the good of men and women, Republicans and Democrats and their ability to build a framework we can all live and thrive under.

To say “that’s a slippery slope” is to say we Americans have finally found something we can’t do. You don’t want to say that around me.

Derek Jorge Campbell is an attorney, entrepreneur, & lobbyist based in central & eastern Kentucky. You may reach him at derekjorgecampbell@gmail.com

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