Politicians and public servants
I think people have become so disenchanted with the process; the constant negative (and poorly composed) commercials, the repetition of the same anecdotes and clichés (“I’ll clean up Springfield”), the blind clinging to ideology and inability to see any issue from more than one perspective, the oversimplification where every and any issue is condensed into a sound bite, they just become numb. — Meat
A cynic might say, and there is probably a little bit of truth, that Illinois voters are tired of the slimy politics from both parties, and that there were no high-profile candidates who came across as being outside the Combine, as John Kass calls it, and ready to clean up the mess. Without high-profile candidates committed to the reforms that voters want, there was no reason to vote yesterday. — ckfred
Count me among those tired, numb and uninspired voters who cast ballots Tuesday with little expectation of significant change to come as a result.
Count my brother, too. He’s increasingly cynical about government across the board. Getting nailed by a red-light camera didn’t help matters, of course, but in general his attitude is “throw the bums out and let’s start all over.”
Throw the bums out. While that option may have its appeal, it will serve no purpose if we replace them with another group of bums — politicians more interested in stroking their egos, scamming the system and serving their personal interests than the public good.
Unfortunately, this has become the familiar face of politics in our country. Politics. Even the word (n.sing the science of government) has taken on the sheen of something oily and crass. Maybe because most practitioners of the art have long since stopped even trying to act like public servants.
Politicians and public servants, they’re worlds apart. And as far as I’m concerned, only the public servants can save us now.
Mind you, no one is the perfect public servant and political skills aren’t something to disdain. However, in mulling my choices between now and November — and in preparation for casting a local ballot in April 2011 — I’m going to pay close attention to where my candidates fall on the Public Servant — Politician continuum. Feel free to suggest additional contrasting qualities.
- A public servant is the same person to your face, behind your back, on the public stage and in a private e-mail. A politician presents as many faces as are necessary to achieve his/her personal agenda.
- A public servant comfortably tolerates a wide diversity of opinion, even when those opinions conflict with his/her own. A politician will dispute, bully or attack those who hold an opposing view.
- A public servant understands that government is a collaborative effort. A politician thinks it’s an us-against-them game that isn’t won until the opposition is crushed.
- A public servant is willing to serve — for a time, at the public’s pleasure. A politician is already salivating over the next step up the ladder and will tailor his/her ideology and message with that in mind.
- A public servant is committed to transparency in government, realizing that it fosters public participation and open deliberation. A politician prefers to control public access to the process, divvying out information as it suits his/her purpose.
- A public servant speaks honestly from the heart and the head. A politician speaks in sound bites, tailored to the audience at hand.
- A public servant is open to the vox populi wherever he/she finds it: letters, phone calls, social media, blogs. A politician attempts to limit the approved channels of public communication while utilizing those same channels him/herself.
- A public servant realizes he/she serves the greater good. A politician’s first priority is the interest groups and backers he/she serves.
- A public servant is inclusive. A politician promotes a partisan culture of dedicated insiders and derided outsiders.
- A public servant understands that grudges and vendettas are a waste of time and detrimental to public confidence. A politician uses grudges and vendettas to solidify his/her power base.
- A public servant believes in the art of compromise. A politician believes in the superiority of his/her ideology.