If we’re honest, many of us probably had at least one moment as a child when we said something substantially similar to the title of this article. Schoolhouse Rock, that Saturday morning bastion of American civics, told us point-blank, “any kid can be the president”; and they were right (provided you were born here and are at least 35 years old and have lived here for at least 14 years). So, we all had this same delusion of grandeur and thought about measuring drapes for the Oval Office.
However this dream died for us, it did die. And unfortunately for our Republic, too many of us abdicated our civic responsibility altogether. While only one person out of 300 million can be president, there is plenty of other work to go around. It’s not glamorous, but it’s necessary if we are to preserve our freedoms and our culture. I’m talking about local office and taking responsibility for the common good right in your own community.
You’d have to be willfully dodging news reports to not know about the phenomenon called “Drag Queen Story Hour,” where sexually deviant men dress in flamboyant women’s clothing and read stories to children in your local public library. This is done, of course, to normalize cross-dressing and to sexually groom children by breaking down the normal barriers between the sexes, confusing children as to sexual and gender identity, and, in the most extreme cases, to identify likely targets for further grooming. That some parents of young children allow their kids to participate in these events shows how far some of us have fallen.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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But it’s not good enough to stand firm and refuse to allow your own kids to attend these events (that should be a no-brainer). We’re to the point where “the best defense is a good offense,” and if you want to protect your family from these pernicious influences, you’ve got to push back hard. Sometimes all you can do is protest out front with a sign and hope you don’t put your foot in your mouth when the media asks you for a statement. But I’ve got a better solution: get yourself in a decision-making position.
Run for office.
Yes, you. Our American experiment in ordered liberty requires it. This is what self-governance really means—average citizens taking their turn at the helm of the ship of state. Stop complaining about what “our leaders” in Washington are doing and focus on what’s happening right in your community. Whether it’s the school board, the library board, township trustee or city councilman, these are the positions that impact your local community, and this is where you need to be.
When I was in high school, looking ahead to where I would go and what I would do, the big emphasis was on going “somewhere else.” Most people experienced this push to get out of their little town and experience life somewhere else. Even if you eventually moved back home, you were better for the experience. And C.S. Lewis implicitly agrees when he points out (in defense of scholarship):
A man who has lived in many places is not likely to be deceived by the local errors of his native village; the scholar has lived in many times and is therefore in some degree immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of his own age.
Valuable insights, to be sure. But too many of us construed this as a directive to pursue fulfillment anywhere other than “home,” or at least to put down roots elsewhere instead of learning what we could and then coming home to make our hometowns better for us all.
Hopefully we’ve outgrown this “grass is always greener” tendency and are now somewhat permanently rooted in wherever we’re calling “home” now. And this is a good thing—because it allows us to pursue localism, as my son’s college professor called it. That is the idea of investing one’s time, effort, and resources in one’s own community.
Why are we always looking elsewhere? Our media is perpetually turning our heads to either Washington or Hollywood, neither of which are attainable for the vast majority of us, and neither of which are healthy to obsess over. We are constantly urged to support or hate a particular political figure because of what they stand for, but this saps our energy and focus from where it should be—making change right here at home.
You want to make a difference? Act locally. Start with your own family, and then shoulder the responsibilities inherent in your church and local community. You want to end hunger? Feed someone or volunteer in a local food bank or your parish St. Vincent de Paul society. You want to combat illiteracy? Teach someone to read or volunteer at your local library. You want to stop our cultural slide in a particular direction? Stand for election to a local office and be one of the decision-makers. You hate what your school system is teaching our kids? Get on the damn school board and do something about it.
Disney has been instrumental in undermining traditional values and advancing the LGBTQ+ agenda for decades. It didn’t happen overnight—they did it by taking control of the board and keeping it. How does something like Drag Queen Story Hour even come about? Local library boards promoted or allowed it. We’re not going to stop these things by wringing our hands and praying more (as if we weren’t already). We’re going to stop them by getting into positions that actually have some influence and using those positions to hold the line.
I have held local elected office for the past 10 years: I know how hard it can be to take an unpopular vote and to be blamed for everything that happens. But, quite literally, someone’s gotta do it. And if we don’t, then shame on us.
Progressives are often inspired to “be the change.” Conservatives need to learn the same lesson. Be the heritage. Be the rock. Be the gadfly who refuses to allow socialism to control your town. Be the town crank over whose dead body your governor will have to crawl to impose unconstitutional lockdowns in your town.
That’s the burden of self-governance, my friends. Somebody is going to be writing the laws and ordinances, and somebody is going to be making decisions that affect everybody. Why shouldn’t it be you? Stop waiting for “a leader” to ride in on a white horse and save us; and stop the fruitless arguing on social media about who should run for President in 2024. Get involved and take back your community now, before it’s too late.