Today is Election Day. If you have not voted, please go now and vote.
A friend said he would be glad when the election was over so we could hear about something else. At first glance, that might sound like a good thing to say. However, as I have taken the time to go back over the conversation, I wonder how much of that statement was motivated by a desire to hear about something else other than politics? Maybe the motivation was to support the idea that after an election we can leave the governing to those who are elected.
There is a danger in thinking it is all over after an election. Yes, we are electing people to serve in various offices; locally, in our state and on the federal level. We make a serious mistake, however; to think that once an election is over that our work is done. We must hold the people accountable who are elected to serve.
To be involved in campaigns and to become all worked up and passionate about certain candidates and then to drop them after they are elected does them a disservice and harms our republic. We, the people, are to hold the men and women accountable who run for and are elected to public office. The reason the trust level at all segments of the population have gone down toward politicians is that we have not held them accountable once they are in office. Some of the people elected like the fact that they can hide behind an office or position, and not be held accountable to the people who placed them in office. The opposite of that attitude is what I have found among the people with whom I have developed a relationship.
It is easy to find a politician when they are seeking office. Not so, sometimes, once they are elected. If more of us would hold the elected officials accountable even when they are not up for reelection, I believe we could see the reality that the politician is elected to represent the people rather than personal or special interest groups.
It is easier than one would think to be able to keep in contact with elected officials once they are in office. They have web sites; they have personal appearances and town hall events where they will be available to the interested public. I have found that when I show my personal interest in politicians and the positions they take on certain issues, they let me know why they voted the way they did. I also have discovered that encouraging the people in office by thanking them for the stand they take rather than always waiting until they do something we don’t like before we get in touch with them works to keep the relationship on a positive footing.
From where I stand, with a little effort we can keep an open door with those who are elected to serve the people.
Follow Ray Newman on Twitter at @RayNewmanSr
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