Choose public over politicsPublished 10:30am Monday, June 4, 2012
Let’s listen, during the next several months, to the views expressed by our legislators and watch very carefully how they’ve voted and otherwise performed in office so we know what voting decisions to make in the next elections. Let’s think critically about the positions defined by those who will compete with them for their seats. Many of us are severely disappointed and even disgusted in the failure to act responsibly on both the state and national levels. Things have got to change substantially, and we need to change them by voting for legislators who will pursue public good over party interests.
We need to recognize the political stunts going on, and we have the power to elect to office those who will solve public problems rather than play political games — problem solving and not gamesmanship.
Many newly elected to legislative offices won initial election by making specific promises, e.g., no new taxes. They took office and now vote against any new tax. This is to say, they are actually keeping the promises that put them in office. Yet, some of their critics (who demand they raise taxes) have right along complained that office holders fail to keep their campaign promises. These are, and they get hit for it.
What the average voter expects, alas, is their elected officials keep the promises we like but are obliged to break the promises we do not like. This is not democracy, by any measure. Politicians are not the only people who engage in gamesmanship.
The critics of promise-keeping office holders ought at least to acknowledge the officials are keeping promises made. Their better argument, however, is that sometimes an office holder learns more about the business than known as a candidate and, therefore, it is acceptable to change one’s mind. I don’t think it is fair or accurate to charge this as necessarily breaking promises. When an office holder does experience a change of mind, the person needs to be transparent and forthright. Acknowledge the change and explain it as best it can be.
This may not be politically smart, but it is the right thing to do.
Politicians are regularly confronted with the alternatives of holding their seats or doing the right thing. When doing the right thing costs them their seats, this becomes the next right thing to do. Of course, seldom is the issue s single matter but a complex of confused and confusing matters. Legislators need to project their overall performance, and voters need to consider this and not a single issue.
In both the Minnesota legislature and in the Congress we have two sides holding to their political positions as crucial and public interests are secondary or even tertiary. The only thing of final importance, they think without daring to say so, is that our side wins. The problems remain, but we’ll get to them when we can have our way without successful opposition.
I have listened to both Republicans and Democrats who sound as if they are willing to let this country go to hell rather than let the other party get any credit for salvation. Once in hell, they’ll begin to think of some way out again.
A bi-partisan vote should mean members of two or more parties coming to agreement on a decision. Praise for bipartisan votes is itself a bi- partisan value. This is to say, everyone agrees about it. In practice, what both parties seem to want most of the time they call for bipartisan action is that the other side gives up its position entirely and accepts our position totally. With this attitude, there will never be any bipartisan agreements.
Let’s elect to state and national offices those who will represent the needs of the people more than the interests of their parties.