In recent surveys on the most and least respected professions in society, politicians consistently score at or near the bottom of the list. The irony in this is that these are people we pick ourselves, and we regularly get the opportunity to replace the ones that do not live up to our expectations.
As I contemplated running for election, I considered the consequences that being successful would have on myself and my family. What sort of effect would taking on this role have on us? My eventual conclusion was that regardless of any broad brush labels that might get applied, I would concern myself with what I have control over. Specifically, my own personal actions, composure and decorum.
So as a prospective elected official, what traits do I feel are most important in order to be respected and effective once in office?
TRUST. For myself personally, I feel this is the one reason that far outweighs all other. Above all else, we should have trust in the people we choose to govern over us.
- We should trust that the people we elect are who they claim to be, and not a fabricated persona created as a marketing ploy. That they actually mean what they say, and say what they mean.
- We should trust that the people we elect have the best interests of our society first and foremost. We should never be concerned that our elected officials have an underlying agenda of individual greed for money or power as the motivating factor behind the decisions they make.
- We should trust that our elected officials recognize that they are one voice among many, and that they have the humility to remember this no matter how lofty of a role in government they may fill.
Votes should be EARNED. Support cannot be taken for granted or assumed. I don’t think it is acceptable for politicians to pound the pavement during an election campaign, but then float for the duration of their mandate. A political career should be filled with a continuing effort to get out to listen and learn from the people you represent.
BALANCE. The best decisions are arrived at after an open and frank conversation. The soundest policies are what result when you allow an honest collision of ideas. This is entirely different from ruling via the latest opinion poll. That is not leadership. A people should not be governed by whoever yells the loudest. The 21st century social media mob is not fundamentally different from the pitchfork and torch wielding crowds of the not so distant past. Yet, our leaders cannot be closed minded, surrounding themselves with an echo chamber of yes-men that tell them only what they want to hear. The true test of leadership is finding that balance of listening, contemplating, and then acting.
I won’t make a grandiose claim that I will bring respectability back to politics. That’s a pretty bold and far reaching statement. But I will promise to adhere to these tenants in my own personal deportment. I believe in them, and I will hold fast to them.