"A White House Devoid of Integrity" is the title of an article published in "Time" this year. The article is dated 17 January - a few days before the recent inauguration (click here to read it) .
Now that nearly two months have passed with a new president, now that our legislative bodies are again in session, questions arise. Is the situation really as bad as the article suggests? More to the point, as the title suggests, is our president devoid of integrity? Or is the question exaggeration and harsh critical opinion, perhaps voters remorse, understatement, or simply good healthy skepticism? Will it get worse before we decide? And make no mistake, it is our job as citizens, every one of us, to OBJECTIVELY decide about everything government is supposed to be up to, equitably, on behalf of we, the people - and not supposed to be up to at unconscionable cost to we the people. That means it is our job to pay attention and educate ourselves about process so that when we question and advise we know who to talk to with as much brevity as possible, in effective ways armed not simply with opinions but with necessary facts . . . like specific concepts accompanied by facts that substantiate our opinions; like bill titles, numbers, and passages in question.
Part of our job as citizens is to put the skids on those in government, at whatever levels of government they are found, when they do not represent the integrity of our nation, state, county, and town. I want to point out that more local levels of government, like city and county, though on a smaller scale, are complex because of the need to balance local decision-making between meeting the needs of the people, and being in accordance with the pertinent regulations and laws of all higher levels of government. So we all have a big responsibility, at several levels, as people who are empowered to self-govern. Self-governing means being part of the decision making process.
Those of us who have taken the oath as part of our job, to defend our federal Constitution against foreign AND domestic tom-foolery that has reached the level of "enemy" attitude and behavior, took it as a serious lifetime commitment. Given that elected and appointed government officials take that oath, it is our job as citizens to remind them of that responsibility especially when our nation's stated values, principles, and ideals are threatened, and worse misrepresented. It is our job - be the threat by those outside our nation, by those inside our nation, or, sometimes, by those who serve in government when they choose to first serve their own self-interests, or a foreign nation's interest, or corporate interests, before equitably serving the basic needs of we, the people - ALL of us.
President Obama impressed upon a whole new younger generation or two of Americans, the value and importance of becoming involved in political process as the advisors to government which it is our responsibility as citizens, to be. Learning how to do so effectively, by using the system to evolve the system is an ongoing process that requires patience, perseverance, and the acquiring of detailed knowledge about the issues we are willing to take on. No one can take on every issue. But if we all do as well as possible in our advocating for issues we can and do take on, then we can have faith in ourselves and our fellow citizens to have our entire nation's best interests in mind and at heart.
Part of doing as well as possible is the persistent follow-up of making government officials accountable to us about what we have advised. That means we need to thank them when they do take our advice, and we need to make them accountable to us when they do NOT take our advice. To do so is to educate them and to be educated by them. Only those folks in government who are willing to be educated by we, the people, their constituents, are worthy to serve us in the offices to which we elect them. That means when those you advise do not represent your wishes, then it is your obligation to yourself and everyone else, to find out from them why they have not. To do so is part of the ongoing debate which is also supposed to exist between the constituents and those we elect. Everyone learns something which contributes to more satisfactory decision making. It is part of the process of win-win compromise and good governing.
Remember - good government it is not a competition with a
winning side and a losing side, as political party leadership tries to
lead us to believe. We need to remind those in office of the bottom
line which is that although political parties owe allegiance to those
they agree to promotes as candidates, it is not the party to whom the
elected owe their allegiance. They owe it to we, the people - ALL of
Remember, also, that we do not elect folks to make our decisions for us. We elect them to make decisions on our behalves. The not so fine line of difference is that when decisions are made on our behalves, we have been part of the process that enables our legislators to be able to do their jobs of representing our needs. Talk to any legislator and almost all of them will say they need and
want more citizen participation. Without it they can not make informed
decisions which reflect the needs of their constituents. Without it the
risk is that our elected officials will represent what the lobbyists
request who are paid by large corporate, industrial, and professional
organizations to promote their special interests in preference to the
needs of the constituents.
Good government is a process of civil debate, often length civil debate when all those who should be involved in it are involved in it. It is designed to accommodate ONLY a win-win scenario which meets the needs of all Americans, equally. Our job, collectively, as citizens, is for each one of us to to make the governing process happen as it should. It is not the work of the faint-hearted nor the apathetic. It is the work of responsible American citizens who stand up to be counted as such.