Citizen Legislators…

Our country started with the idea that people would go to Washington, D.C., serve their constituents for a time, and then return to their regular lives as another took their place in Washington.

Over the course of time, that approach seems to have lost favor with the idea that career politicians are the correct answer.  At least, that is what appears to have occurred since we have a preponderance of career politicians and once the careerist is in office, there is scant little thought given to limiting the terms he or she will serve.

Our politicians, especially at the national level, have been made an elite group for whom everything is covered and there are few if any real wants left unsatisfied.  Those at the state level are still with their constituents and are usually in their home areas regularly so they can stay in touch.  That is a bit more difficult for an official from Superior, WI than for the official from the capital city of Madison, WI.  There are similar situations for most at the state level in almost all our states.

The danger for those who are disconnected from home for lengthy periods is simple.  They become engrossed with the pampering they receive in our nation’s capital and that is a nice feeling for many.  There are parties.  There are lobbyists.  Promises are made.  The atmosphere is alive, electric almost.  The constituents are at home, for the most part.  It has to take a particular kind of person to be able to withstand the temptations of the office to which elected.

The attraction to power may be likened to the moth that simply cannot avoid being drawn to the bright light.  Humans are just that…human.  We each carry our frailties with us every step of the way.  If we are close to home, we have, I believe, a much better chance of staying in touch with reality.  Even if we travel through the week, coming home is that solace at the end of the busy week for which we hunger.

It takes a very strong and very mature person to withstand the rigors of national office.  That is not for the weak in willpower, nor is it for those who have lost their bearings over time.  Among the things needing to be addressed is that of the sense of power conveyed to the holder of the office.

We see Senators and Congressmen/women who appear to have lost all touch with the realities you and I face each and every day.  Those are the people who seem to be so out-of-touch with the reality that we wonder what has happened to them.  Those with a strength of will and a guiding faith work their way through the temptations of national office.  Those who are weak succumb to the siren’s calls to stray from what they knew was right and what was wrong to a newly defined set of rights and wrongs.  That is such a gradual change that even strong-willed people might succumb, but where certainly those without strong wills will be pulled into the depths.

If you step back and take a look at the various politicians that you have questions about, I’ll wager that the majority of those folks have served for years.  Not every longterm officeholder is in that group, but those who are may well need to come home.  You and I determine when it is time for them to come home.  Our votes have that power.

Remember your power every time you walk into the polling place to cast your vote.  Remember, also, the pride that we saw as the people who vote in countries where this is not the gift it is for us, as they emerged with the purple fingertip to show they had cast their ballot.  Maybe we should go back to that and get away from the flag sticker for our lapel or jacket.

Maybe our system is now simply too easy.  Remember, the next time you find yourself upset or even angry over a vote taken in an elected body with which you disagree.  You are the person who can make changes to that body with your vote and your talking with other voters to help them understand there may be a better choice for that office.

We are indeed a free people and we need be mindful of that each and every day lest we lose some of those freedoms without even being aware they are gone.  We have that power in America, if we’ll but choose to use it.

If we don’t use it, shame on us.


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