Elected officials work for the people. Our tax dollars pay their salaries. They are accountable to us. When elected officials do not conduct the business of government based on our best interests, we must seriously ask, why not? More importantly, why do we consistently allow them to get away with it? Think about it!
Would you place someone in a job and never check to see how well he or she is performing? After listening to job seekers rail about their qualifications and experience, and how they are best suited for the job, would you hire them and forget them? Would you leave them to their own oversight? Hardly. What if it is a company, you dedicated your time and money to build; would you pay their salary with your hard-earned income, too NOT do the job you hired them to perform?
However, as citizens, isn’t that exactly what most of us do after going to the polls, voting, and working for — essentially hiring — elected officials? After all the promises, the vote, or non-vote, and the election-night victory parties, we often retire, and essentially relinquish our roles to ensure that our government works for us.
As you watched the decisions come in on the national, state, and local levels, do you think we have the right elected officials to improve the quality of your family’s life, your community, your employment, and your career opportunities? We need to not only ask the imperative question, and watch the answer unfold: “Will we better off during the next two years than we were during the last two? And when necessary, we should not hesitate to shout the familiar refrain: “It’s the economy stupid.” Fixing the economy could cure a myriad of problems.
As this very contentious election is finally completed, we must remember that as Sarah Palin, and vocals of the newly formed Tea Party, President Obama, many Senators, and Representatives were all out vying for your vote. Aside from all the rancorous rhetoric, this election will hardly be characterized as the usual state of affairs. It is our duty to remember the tenuous conditions and potentially treacherous waters we are treading: a growing deficit, a bulging national debt, a never-ending war on terrorism, and lest we forget, the emerging energy and environmental challenges.
But that is only part of it. On the home front, many families continue to suffer from the double-digit unemployment rate, and the challenges joblessness poses daily. We still are not making the grade when it comes to providing quality education for all of our children. We still have a far too high rate of drug, alcohol, and substance abuse plaguing our communities. We still have too many children put in harm’s way because they do not have safe, quality programs after school.
With so many domestic and international issues facing us, we cannot afford partisan bickering, personal political agenda being proffered at the expense of substantive dialogue and debate on these various serious issues with looming and dire consequences. Our government needs to work better than ever to achieve these needed solutions.
But the real question is: What will we do to make it happen? Will we, the public, fall into our usual role of the absent employer who fails to evaluate the job performance of those we hired, and determine whether or not they are fulfilling their promises to make life better on our behalf? At best, will we fall into the role of passive spectator, one who complains, but never bothers to make a call, write a letter, or convene a meeting of like-minded citizens to hold elected officials accountable?
At a minimum, we should demand the replacement of partisan politics with civil discourse and debate, and try to arrive at the best remedies for our most critical problems. If we do not watch out for what is in our best interest, we cannot expect anyone else to do so.
There is much to be involved in and vigilant about — including where our children go to school, the money left from our paychecks to improve our standard of living, and the quality of the food we put on our tables for our loved ones to eat. If you stop to think about it, each decision made by an elected and appointed official, at every level of government, eventually transcends into our daily lives. There are few, or more likely, no exceptions.
The vigilance and involvement begin at home with your local elected officials and spreads to the state and national level. Their performance is interconnected.
The work requirements for elected and appointed officials are no different than many of those required for you and I: 1) an obligation to know your job and carry it out in a manner that will make things better, not worse; 2) the need to be a team player, pulling together to get the best outcome. So, should we expect any less from those that we hired to govern us?
What will you do to hold elected officials — new, and veteran — accountable for the very important jobs we hired them to carry out?
There is too much riding on these individuals — for our families, for our communities, and for each of us as individuals, to allow our government officials to operate without our active oversight.