Watched a movie on Turner Classic movie channel this morning, entitled “A Stranger In Town”.. It’s the story of a DC federal judge on vacation incognito, who winds up getting involved in a small town rigged election.
Inexplaining to the people his actions, he admonished them that, “I am not just a judge, but more importantly, a citizen of the United States. It is a great honor to be called a citizen. It’s an honor that many people fought and died for, and one that people all over the world would love to have. This honor comes with responsibility, for government is of the people, by the people, and for the people. We must not lose diligence in electing good people, for we are bound to be governed by the people that we deserve.”
I may have gotten some of the words wrong, but that’s the gist of it. The movie was made in the late 40’s, I believe. Seems we already had a huge problem with corruption in government 70 years ago. Truth is, corruption in government is always as close as a single failure of the people to pay attention and be diligent in any single election.
I, of course, live in the United States, which means I also live in a state and a town. That means I have to pay attention not only to national elections (which is really only for president and VP) but also to state and local elections. And, I’m sure that I am like most people, in that I tend to focus on some elections and not think much about others. Of course, the would-be tyrants, and those who would corrupt politics and politicians for their own ends, are betting that I cannot, will not, pay attention to every little detail, to every “little” election. In reality, there are no “little” elections. For each and every election is a brick in the larger whole that is the well-built structure of a fair and orderly society. It pains me somewhat when I look at my local election ballot and see the number of names for “lesser” positions that stand unopposed on the ballot–names that have been there through many election cycles and with no opposition. It pains me that no one thought to at least challenge that those persons were the best for the job. After all, they are hired by the people and for the people.
What pains me even more is that, often, when I am presented a choice of candidates, I have no clue of either or any of the choices. This is shame on me as a citizen. This means that, when I find myself at odds with my municipality in whatever matter, the blame falls upon me. It’s not only my right to choose my governors, it’s also my responsibility. When I feel the hand of tyranny upon me at the local level, it’s a sure bet that I am not alone. And it is my failure to due diligence in local matters that is to blame.
It is possible to know every nook and cranny of government procedure on any level. All the information is public domain and readily available. It does take some time and diligence, however. And, often, watching government proceedings is like watching paint dry. But, usually, one can read the manuscripts. I have often said that, as a blogger, it’s impossible for one person to pay attention to everything. That’s why the people should form watchdog groups that can assign different people to summarize different parts of the whole in order to keep everyone informed. As bloggers, we somewhat do that. However, bloggers tend to make a big stink about one little aspect of a certain part instead of drawing a bigger picture of it. This means we all get too mired down in the minutia of some things and entirely miss the bigger, more important picture in other things.
Since politics has become big business, and big bosses run it, it’s entirely difficult for some small-fry to take even a small piece of the pie. But, every little piece is important. As citizens, we must also understand that our candidates are flesh-and-blood people like ourselves. They all have skeletons in the closet. Anyone who wants to run for office had better understand that those skeletons are going to come out. What we have to ask ourselves as citizens is whether we want a white-washed leader or whether we want an honest leader. To my thinking, it’s better to have a flawed but honest leader who has owned up to his mistakes than to have the bought leader whose mistakes are glossed over or hidden by a political machine. Character is not about never making a mistake. If that were the case, no person alive could be said to have character. No, character is about making mistakes and learning from them, overcoming them. And character is about honesty. The person who can admit to being human is the one I’d pick to be a good and humble public servant.
Let’s look at a case in point. Wendy Davis, candidate for Texas governor, claims to have overcome a lot. She was an unwed single mother, worked her way through law school, got accepted to Harvard, became state senator. So, she overcame a lot of “mistakes” to get where she is. Problem is, she is not honest about the mistakes. She did, indeed divorce her husband, but she doesn’t mention that her tuition to TCU was paid by her second husband, whom she divorced immediately after her tuition was paid. She doesn’t mention the fact that she gave up the rights to her first child, and that custody of her second child was awarded to her second husband by the judge who saw her as an unfit mother. So, in reality, she was hardly much a single mother or any kind of mother. Also, her “mistakes” are never portrayed as her own fault, but rather as something that someone else did to her that she had to overcome. There are many other distortions, but you get the picture. Here is a woman who won’t take responsibility for her own sins. What is to make us think she will take any responsibility for her actions if elected to office?
Another case in point is Chris Christie. Yes, he apologized for the whole bridge thing. But, again, it wasn’t his fault. Other people did it behind his back. But he took responsibility for it anyway. The upshot is that he is being written off as politically dead. I guess we shall see. I suppose we have to wait to find out “what he knew and when he knew it.” That doesn’t seem to always matter though, ever since Hillary screamed “What difference does it make?”
Here’s the difference, Hillary. We need people in office who will “man up.” I know that’s more difficult for you. But it’s what we the people need from our leaders. And if we, the people, don’t hold our leaders to that standard, then shame on us. We, the people, are society. When society runs amok, it’s we the people who are to blame. We need to take responsibility for what we do. No, we are not perfect. But, we need to pay the piper for our actions when they cause harm to society. And we all need to accept payment for sins and move on, whether that is in the case of the newly-release criminal who has paid his debt to society or the political candidate who has overcome his impetuous youth and grown up to be honest and accountable. And we need to elect politicians who have grown up and are ready to be responsible for what they do. Because, in the end, this is not about you, mister or madame candidate. This is about the people, the people, the people. And, people, this is not about you. It is about us all. We are all responsible for the government we get. It is nothing more or less than the reflection of ourselves.