Opinion: All about us, not them

  • Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mojo and Isabelle were in deep discussion. “What are y’all talking about.” “Mojo and I were just discussing the recent editorial in the paper, “Listening to the people.” We appreciated it and were particularly glad that the editor seems to be listening to an animal friend of ours.” “I don’t understand.” Mojo picked up.

“The editorial’s main point was that it is critical in our representative democracy to let those we elect to represent us know what we want and if we don’t, we bear a major responsibility for public policy decisions that we don’t like.” “Yea, I understand that, but where does your animal friend fit in?” “Our friend, Pogo Possum, summed it up, ‘We have met the enemy and they is us.’ “

“Wow.”

“Mo and Izzy, this discussion reminds me of an event that happened a long time before I met y’all. The Congressman I worked with was chosen by former President Jimmy Carter to be part of a team sent to observe elections in Nicaragua.

“That small nation was in the middle of a terrible civil war. It was hoped that the election would bring an end to the violence. A cease fire was called.

“The polling place Ben, the Congressman, was assigned to was in an area of the country accessible only by air or boat. So, military helicopter gunships were refitted to carry ballot boxes instead of bullets.

“As the helicopters took off flew over mountains and through valleys, everyone hoped that word about the ceasefire had gotten out.

When the helicopters approached the town square that was the drop off point, the observers thought a mistake had been made. The town seemed deserted. The helicopters landed. Ballot boxes were unloaded.

“As soon as it became clear that the choppers were part of the election process, the square began to fill with people.

“The observers looked up and saw a steady stream of people coming down the mountain sides. Soon hundreds of people were lined up to vote.”

“How different it is with you humans here,” Mojo reflected. “Low voter turn out. Folks generally having no idea who represents them at various levels of government. And yet everyone seems to complain about those folks somewhere who are making decisions they don’t like. Pogo had it right.”

“Mojo and Isabelle, working with Congress I learned that decisions public officials make have different parts to them. One part is core value. For Ben, a former actor, a core value was freedom of speech.

“Another part is significant others, All public officials, no matter how smart, are educated beyond their intelligence. They have to make so many decisions about so many things, they can’t possibly know everything about everything they vote on.

“So, they are dependent upon others. Sometimes those others are staff or special interest groups. By far, the greatest part of the decision is constituency. The most powerful phrase in the public arena is, I am your constituent.

“That brings us back around to the editorial and to Pogo. It is all about us and not them.”

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