By Janice S. Ellis, Ph.D., Kansas City, MO —
To the political leaders of tomorrow, what impressions are we leaving today? With the gridlock in Washington, and the pervasive negative perception of politics and politicians on the local level all across America, what messages are we sending the leaders of tomorrow? Are they being turned off by what they see?
Or, are they, hopefully, realizing how in need our government is, at all levels, for good men and women? Men and women who have strong values, good character and a true desire to devote their talent and energy toward those area that impact public policy and people’s lives.
Let us all hope that the latter is true and that the entire shameful, irresponsible behavior of many elected officials at all levels of government will not leave our pool of political talent bankrupt. Politics, and the political process is much too important to suffer permanent injury.
Whether we like the people elected or the rules and the processes outlined in the Constitution of the United States, they impact every aspect of our lives. Politics, public policy and the people we elect determine many things about the quality of our lives, from where we live to how we live.
Through this seemingly unending negativity dominating the political stage on all levels, we must not let our future leaders be left with a negative view or bad taste in their mouths about government and how it works. We need to emphasize that this sea of negativity, too, shall pass. We have had periods of good government at many levels.
We must remind future leaders on every turn about the great system of government that we have in this country, albeit imperfect. We must note that the institution is stronger than any one person or one group of persons. The country has withstood the ugliness and divisiveness of slavery. It has withstood wars. It has withstood a major depression, many economic recessions, and other crises of various sizes. The country is strong enough to withstand what looks like this period of unbreakable gridlock.
Including our government and effective political leaders in our conversations around the dinner table, the fireplace, and in the family room will go a long way to instill a sense of what good public service is all about. Openly discuss political events with the young impressionable minds around us. Encourage a conversation where issues will be aired and put into the proper perspective – helping people to resolve conflicting feelings that may make them avoid public life.
In our classrooms, at every opportunity, we need to be looking to the great philosophers and leaders in classic and recent history for guidance and as examples to follow. Leaders, who are morally and ethically strong, providing leadership in upholding what is good about America, still represent the heart and soul of politics. Political leaders of tomorrow must have these qualities.
Politics still mean those deliberations, active, sometimes vigorous and lively discussions, among citizens who diligently searched to determine and promote the greatest good for the greatest number with each policy decision made.
For this to continue to be a great country, a great city wherever you live, it will take us all to remain engaged, participating at all levels in whatever way we can to keep our government strong.
Now is the time to voice our feelings and positions in record numbers. It is not the time to succumb to our feeling or disappointment and disgust.
Let us send a resounding message to our political leaders of tomorrow that politics, the political stage, and all of its imperfections, are an integral and inextricable part of our lives. We can’t cut it out. Our apathy or disenchantment with it will not make it go away.
Perhaps the greatest message we can send to the leaders of tomorrow is to vote in record numbers in local and national elections whenever they occur.
Show our leaders of tomorrow that we still care about how our government works.
Feature photo credit: netrightdaily.com