We suffer from a very dangerous disease. Its name is apathy.

As a youngster in the early 1950s, I was exposed to the horrors of war via the NBC television series “Victory at Sea.” More recently, the Ken Burns documentaries “The War” and “The Vietnam War” gave us a more profound view of what war is really like. For many of us who experienced combat, Ken Burns reignited memories most of us thought were buried deep inside us and would rather stay buried.

We are a deeply troubled species and nation. We profess a desire for peace yet we maintain one of the largest military organizations on the planet. We claim the political and moral high ground yet we are the only nation as of yet to have used nuclear weapons in anger. We use our might to protect what our leaders have claimed are “American interests” but have done little to define what those interests are.

In watching scenes of human carnage played out on the screen, it begs the question in my mind as to how this could all happen? How could our leaders allow our people be subjected to and participate in these conflicts?

What Hitler did in setting off a global conflict was intended to seek revenge on a former enemy and allow expansion of his own country at the expense of others. In his mind’s eye, it was for national interests. World War II was a necessary war. Hitler and the Axis had to be stopped. Hitler was consumed by a hatred that turned into a widespread cult that drove his country to destruction. But I am reminded that Hitler was the product of a democracy. He was voted into office.

Who then failed in this process? What was the root cause of this failure? Does the responsibility lie with the voting public? In theory, yes. In practice, statistics show the larger part of the public that hold the voting franchise ignore the puppet theatre that takes place each election. For the most part, the candidate’s rhetoric and the banal wordsmithing that are designed to attract voters to their cause are nothing more than empty phrases. In past elections it would appear the real power lies with a minority who may or may not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the majority.

As citizens of this democracy, it is our responsibility to elect people to represent our concerns at each level of government. If anything, we currently represent a contradiction in our politics. It has been said by the pundits and analysts we are a divided society yet we here in Hawaii suffer from a one-party dominance that has in past played its own games by censuring those within its ranks for disagreeing with the party line. Shouldn’t we be working towards unified goals and not just follow party lines?

We are terrible students of history. If anything, the images of war should inspire us to work towards preventing a repetition of the horror of any kind of conflict. This is only a suggestion but I hope you as a potential voter exercise not only your right but your responsibility in putting equally responsible leaders into office. How then do we make educated decisions in the voting booth? Doesn’t it start with preparation?

First, I would ignore the rhetoric and focus on the character and abilities of the candidates. What is their track record? Do they posses the experience to perform? Do they have any skeletons in their political closets? (I am reminded of the politician who fell from grace who asked the question, “How do I regain my credibility?” Answer: You don’t. Sadly, politicians have violated public trust and seem to get away with it. That’s on us. We didn’t do our job.)

Secondly, I would remember all of this in light of history. We hold in our power the ability to send people to office that are responsible, not just those who are there just to collect a check and a pension.

This research takes time and effort. But the images of innocent civilians stacked like cord wood as a result of what some maniac leader started, remains firm in my mind. I don’t want that to happen again because the next time, it could end up with far more disastrous results than World War II couldn’t even envisage.

Ignore the rhetoric and focus on the character and abilities of the candidates.

We are faced today with a more divisive federal government and people since the Vietnam War. We have an executive branch of the government that has grown in power far beyond what the founding fathers had envisioned. The checks and balances are in jeopardy.

I am a veteran who has participated in war. I put on a uniform and took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. I did not serve the nation for interests as defined by corporate America and remain unspoken. We have been the beacon of freedom, innovation and the future. I want my legacy to be a country my grandson can be proud of. I can only hope that you can honestly say you have performed your duty as a responsible citizen by doing your homework on the candidates and issues that face us on the ballot.

The choice is yours. We can elect accountable representatives or we can follow down a path that history has shown us to be potentially destructive.

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About the Author

  • Victor Craft
    Victor Craft is a retired aerospace worker having functioned as an FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplants Technician, Logistician and Quality Assurance director working on several major weapons systems. Vic also served tours of duty with the armed forces in Vietnam, Kenya and the United Kingdom.