Worry about effective action, not political correctness
The effectiveness of our political system isn’t solely the personal responsibility of our elected officials.
Last column, we discussed the post-election responsibility of politicians to focus on solutions instead of the problems and promises that dominate campaigns as well as utilizing common sense for our as opposed to their party’s benefit. We, as citizens, have a responsibility to do the same.
Instead of reiterating problems, we must use our conscious thought to try and develop solutions. We must subsequently implement them or communicate them to those who can. We must examine the pros and cons of others’ solutions on their merit as opposed to automatically attaching judgment based on our own personal agenda or that of our party.
We can help our legislators focus by not basing our assessment of their performance on the number of bills they propose or get passed. Because we and the press tend to evaluate them in that fashion, legislators focus in that regard. The 114th Congress dealt with over 10,000 bills. In 2017, Colorado dealt with over 700. The federal code encompasses more than 32,000 pages. There are thousands of pages of state, county and city law as well as even more pages of administrative regulations.
We’ve had over 230 years to add to, revise and improve our laws. Times change and so must our laws, but it isn’t logical that each year requires hundreds of proposed additions and modifications. It isn’t as if our system doesn’t work. It would seem legislative focus on the most significant issues instead of personal or party agendas would be a better course of action.
Limiting each legislator to 1 or 2 bills per year would not only make them focus on the big issues, but require them to work cooperatively with other legislators. It would facilitate their writing better bills that are clear in intention and implementation. If laws were better written, the Supreme Court wouldn’t have to spend so much time interpreting them. With less required interpretation, the Supreme Court could evolve toward the goal of being apolitical.
It would also be constructive to eliminate the riders, amendments that are unrelated to the subject of the original bill. Attaching them has become common practice as a method to buy votes from other politicians or facilitate the death of a bill. Examples are numerous. Two are: a rider about electronic cigarettes was attached to the farm bill; an abortion funding rider was attached to a motorcycle safety bill.
It’s our personal responsibility to encourage the right people to run for office. Not only people who have the requisite knowledge and experience, but possess common sense and are good people. That may be hard to define, but we all know it when we are around or work with them. Values may be hard to define but aren’t hard to detect.
It’s hard to convince the best people to run. Competent people are busy people. Who wants their life microscopically examined, back to their teenage years. We’ve all made mistakes and they aren’t limited to the errors of youth.
Maybe we need a reasonable statute of limitations on mistakes. People who take action, seek responsibility, display initiative, and make decisions are going to have whoops moments. People who have never made significant errors haven’t done anything.
Wisdom is a function of experience. We should prefer those who have experience, made mistakes, dealt with them, learned from them. We need politicians who are decision-makers and have experience in not only making decisions, but decisions that required them to deal with the results. We don’t want the politician who spent two days trying to answer the anonymous letter.
An acquaintance expressed “Politicians and people don’t make many perfect decisions.” Waiting to make the perfect decision, however, means never making the decision. Decision-makers learn to live in and from the results.
We must learn to separate the support and opinion of our country from that of the politicians. Elected officials aren’t our country, we and the system are. History has proven our country will survive inept leadership. It may be acceptable to bad mouth an individual, but it’s not acceptable, let alone constructive, to do the same to our country. We can support, respect and work to improve the United States, regardless of those who are currently running it. Remember, politicians are temporary employees; our country needs to be here in perpetuity.
We need to worry less about political correctness and more about effective action. Both we and our elected officials tend to be so bound up in being politically correct we are afraid to act, compromise, or even talk to one another. Many of those demanding extreme political correctness are using it to rationalize their own lack of effort, achievement and hide personal weakness. They also tend to be those with a heightened and undeserved sense of entitlement.
It’s our personal responsibility to worry less about who we might offend and more about how and who we can encourage, motivate and inspire.
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. He recently retired after 40 years of teaching marketing, entrepreneurship and economics. Comments and column suggestions to: email@example.com