Who Will Serve the People?
Nov 1, 2016
I remember the days of the political machine which could produce great good for our society. There were problems with it, yes, it was an "old boy's club" that encouraged us to vote for the incumbent Representative or Senator because the longer they stayed in office the more Federal money they could direct to our State. This happened because they would be promoted into the various committees in Washington that did the back office work of creating the legislation based on their seniority. Somewhere in the last twenty years a new thought has been emerging that makes an enemy of the "Washington Insiders" and portrays the rest of us as their victims. New candidates emerged clearly letting us know that they were "outsiders" to the political process. As an outsider they promised new ideas and new ways of doing things. This has lead in both State and Federal governments to "do-nothing" Legislatures in which the new order cannot establish itself and the old order seems stymied. I don't know when this will end; but I do know that for the good of our country it has to end.
When I was growing up to be a politician was a response to the desire to serve the people they represented. We were taught in our civic classes that we could write to our Congressmen when we needed help and we could expect that they would respond. Our public accountability was the election cycle in which we could vote someone out of office if they didn't serve us well. I believe this still happens with regularity, though I find that I seldom write to any of them. Too often I am caught up in the political rhetoric as opposed to the real work of political persons. In this week before the election I encourage you to look past the rhetoric and to look at the person you will be asked to vote for. What have they been doing? Have they been doing a good job or not? It is not so much what they have said 20 years ago that was captured in electronic form so that it can be used against the opponent (both sides are guilty of this), but what have they done? Have they been of service to you and the country, or do they seem distant and unavailable.
I think we have to get away from thinking that somehow politicians are the enemy. I think they are noble people who are willing to work on our behalf to help better our cities, states and country. They aspire to a great work that most of us would not want to contemplate. To listen to the needs of any and all, and to create legislation that will be in the best interest of the common good of all of us. That is not an easy task for any of us, but I am thankful that there are men and women who rise up to that task. They will all have their individual detractors, given the fact that they will not always decide on behalf of one person or the other. They also have their supporters which I hope gives them solace in their more difficult days.
The bishops of the United States remind us Catholics that it is our civic duty to vote. They do not tell you who to vote for, but they do encourage each of us to live up to our duties as citizens and enter the dialogue of election with the rest of the citizens of our country.