What makes us believe that our personal opinions on any given topic are valuable, worthwhile, honest, or even accurate? Not everyone is educated or even interested in politics, yet most hold a handful of deeply rooted political or social opinions that shape the way they believe, behave, speak, and most importantly, vote. To an extent it is good to have an opinion and speak your mind; however, a combination of a selectively focused and overly weighted opinion can have a negative effect on others. What many voters fail to realize is that politicians cater to our votes rather than the real issues that affect our lives. Their campaigns turn our hopes and fears into platforms and policies. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to make sure that we are talking about the right things as well as understanding that what may appear good, just, or true to one may not be the case for the whole.
In the scope of a 15 trillion dollar debt, several foreign wars, and a nearly unprecedented unemployment rate, language is a relatively unimportant issue that is unfortunately demanding national attention and taking up congressional time. There has been a strong push by The Conservative Caucus, a right wing lobbying group, to make English the official language of the United States. As it stands, English is the de facto national language, a title of little to no official importance. The Conservative Caucus’s (TCC) plan, however, is to mobilize its followers into pressuring congress to pass H.R. 997, The English Language Unity Act. TCC’s website claims members of TCC that are focused in on this issue are part of a “non-partisan ENGLISH-ONLY TASK FORCE.” The “non-partisan” label in that statement is only out shadowed in audacity and hyperbole by Reason Number 2 on TCC’s website to pass H.R. 997. Reason Number 2 states that TCC will “identify and mobilize a large grassroots army of millions of pro-freedom Americans to put pressure on congress to enact H.R. 997.” Therein lies the irresponsible and inaccurate magnification of a fringe issue that is distracting Americans from critical decisions during important elections. To imply that anything other than an English only society is un-American, or anti-freedom is a perfect example of a hyperbolic or fear-inducing statement meant only to gain popularity. It is our responsibility as citizens pursuing a well-informed, responsible electorate to ignore organizations such as TCC and feeding the flame. The manner in which we react to and interact with these groups, however, is only half the battle.
Large lobbying groups such as TCC manifest themselves in the same pattern as politicians, i.e. they react to the public and cater to our fears. We create these groups by our own personal opinions and complaints, but then grouse when they grow into uncontrollable machines. One may find that groups such as TCC may successfully serve some personal purpose; however, we must tread through our individual longings to discover a medial ground of common good. Furthermore, we must all remember that English is NOT our official language and is only our so-called national language thanks to a very brief history of majority. If America is a country of the people and language is a tool for the people, then who are we to decide what people are to speak which language. Also, the idea that anyone other than a politician should care or even take into consideration any of our personal opinions is a youthful arrogance. Even if your grandfather came here from a foreign country and learned to speak English the hard way by working through a life of laborious jobs and struggling through poverty; nobody cares, nor should they. If anything, your grandfather should be the first to admit that help in the form of a caring, understanding society could have granted him a much easier and healthier journey. So remember that no matter how annoying you may find it to “press 2 for Spanish,” your educated silence may lead to the extinction of one more selfish group that will back one less incompetent congressman, who will now waste less hour and dollar of taxpayer time and money.
For the record, I understand and acknowledge the hypocrisy in creating an opinion-related post calling for a restraint in our opinions. The goal I have in mind is not to silence our voices by any means, but to channel them through honorable people and towards issues that have a larger effect on our lives. We have the ability to change policy because the government is our medium to the world, and it is our job to use it responsibly. So go out and find a real issue; study it, learn it, and make a change.