Our Opinion: Don’t count on next president to cure all; do your part to make things ‘great’

September 24th, 2016 10:00 pm

Despite his repeated assurances, Donald Trump won’t make things great for you.

And as surely as the Republican presidential candidate’s campaign bluster cannot be believed, neither should you give credence to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s ability to perk up Northeastern Pennsylvania with abundant job opportunities. She told a Scranton audience last month that “we are going to make the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.”

Stump speeches – so packed with promises and wishful thinking – give us something about which to cheer. (Or roll our eyes.) But they often don’t translate into results, the kind of things that can, for instance, transform an economically depressed region into a prosperous one, or change the trajectory of your life.

Keep that in mind during Monday night’s presidential debate from Hofstra University, in New York, and through the final, frenetic weeks leading to the November election. This race likely will turn more bellicose, maybe even more bizarre. Those of us in Luzerne County – a so-called battleground area – will be showered with attention from the candidates and their surrogates, each suggesting that our lives will be better if we only vote for (fill in the partisan blank).

Yes, the occupant of the Oval Office wields enormous power. Yes, his – or her – decisions regularly impact conditions not only for America’s citizens, but also the world’s. And yes, you should vote on Nov. 8.

However, voting for a presidential hopeful is not enough. If you sincerely want things in your community to be “great,” or even a little better, you’re going to have to work for it in meaningful and persistent ways. That’s not the message you can expect to hear on Fox, NBC or any other broadcast outlet, but you know it’s true.

Even if your favored candidate wins, she – or he – won’t possibly be able to deliver on every pledge, or even a fraction of them. Congress greatly reins in each president’s ambitions. The Supreme Court nixes certain actions. Moreover, reality catches up with all those clever slogans and pithy lines delivered during campaign stops in places such as Wilkes-Barre and Dunmore; what once sounded so simple is actually unrealistic.

So don’t attach all of your hopes to one presidential contender’s political fate. For too long, too many of us in this region seemingly have waited for a savior: the right candidate, the new factory that will employ thousands, the big government grant (or buyout, or program). We wait to our own detriment.

The job of improving our country, and our corner of it, doesn’t involve waiting. It demands doing.

Channel your passion for a particular candidate into a cause. Put your talents and energy to work, for example, with groups that are pushing for campaign-finance reform, or more limited government, or free college tuition, or childcare affordability, or higher wages, or fewer trade pacts, or racial equality, or walking trails near your neighborhood, or city beautification in the place you live.

More of us need to turn off the sources of endless political spin and instead become attuned to the projects that propel real change.

In short, more of us in Northeastern Pennsylvania need to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.

That’s not an entirely Republican ideal; it’s an American one.