By doing nothing we can only watch the world go by

 What we need is decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and have the country’s best interests at heart

In his appeal for young voters to go to vote, Barack Obama says “when we don’t vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing and look for the newest diversion, then other voices fill the void”.
In his appeal for young voters to go to vote, Barack Obama says “when we don’t vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing and look for the newest diversion, then other voices fill the void”.

Ten days ago, former American President Barack Obama delivered a speech that was described as “fiery”.

Although it was primarily addressed to young American voters, its relevance to democracy is worldwide – “the point that is essential to democracy, is that in a government of and by the people and for the people, there should be no permanent ruling class. There are only citizens, who through their elected and temporary representatives, determine our course and determine our character”.

He spoke about progress, in America and beyond. He clearly stated that “Progress doesn’t just move in a straight line”. It isn’t always easy and sometimes we tend to take one step back for every two steps forward.

He stressed on the ideals that we are all created equal and that these “ideals say that every child should have opportunity and every man and woman who’s willing to work hard, should be able to find a job and support a family”.

He also said that no party has always been right and the other party always wrong and a country moves forward with the contribution given by different political forces.

We have a collective responsibility to move forward and we cannot be fearful of change. Some believe in maintaining the status quo and often this a result of those who “want to keep us divided and keep us angry and cynical to keep their power and keep their privilege”.

There are many challenges that we have to face. In a healthy democracy, we cannot accept conditions that promote racial and ethnic and religious division. In his appeal for young voters to go to vote, Barack Obama says “when we don’t vote, when we take our basic rights and freedoms for granted, when we turn away and stop paying attention and stop engaging and stop believing and look for the newest diversion, then other voices fill the void”.

This appeal is not restrictive to American voters, it is a genuine plea to the peoples of the world and it particularly applies to the whole of the European Union, including us Maltese.

This is not just a matter of one party against the other. Whenever we entertain this kind of politics, whenever we follow partisan principles as against political principles, we infect the political system. In many countries, over the last few years, we have allowed the politics of division and resentment take over from politics for the common good.

Former US President Obama admitted that “sometimes I get into arguments with progressive friends about what the current political movement requires. They are well-meaning folks passionate about social justice who think things have gotten so bad, the lines have been so starkly drawn, that we have to fight fire with fire”.

This is not so and Barack Obama says that this erodes civic institutions and civic trust and disagrees because it “always works better for those who don’t believe in the power of collective action”. “Better is always worth fighting for.” “Through the testing of ideas and the application of reason of evidence and proof, we could sort out our differences and find a basis for common ground” said Obama in his landmark speech.

We must continue to move forward. By doing nothing we can only watch the world go by. What we need is decent, honest, hard-working people who are accountable and have the country’s best interests at heart.

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