One of the most important positions of engagement in our democratic electoral form of representative government is in the field of public service. Without this, we would fail as a great and interdependent republic.
To enter the noble career of public service, one must embody the desire and utmost willingness truly and unalterably to serve the public.
With this service, often comes a certain degree of political and personal power not often accorded to persons working within private spheres. This power, whether public visibility and status or heightened influence in the political decision-making process, must not be motivated primarily by personal aggrandizement.
Power demands responsibility – a duty to follow at least fundamental standards of ethical conduct. It demands a true representation of constituents’ needs and requirements in their best interests.
It demands genuine leadership of our leaders in bringing people from disparate and often contradictory vantage positions together to solve problems for the many and not the privileged few.
Serving the public demands a delicate combination of cooperation, negotiation, and compromise, without compromising the essential attributes of self-respect, dignity, and integrity.
While attempting to serve the public often leaves one open to scurrilous personal criticism and slanderous insults, and one must invariably develop a tough outer skin; it demands that one maintains a high level of sensitivity to people’s needs and empathy with their experiences.
These are merely the basic requirements necessary for public service. The good news is, though, that our country has generally had the great fortune of attracting essential people of good will and dedication to government, even as the flood of self-serving political hacks have perennially swept into office. These people are advanced to power by preying on public fears and evident and subterranean divisions.
Our democratic electoral system of representative government depends upon an educated electorate. It demands responsibility on the part of the electorate to critically examine politicians, so they can make truly informed decisions. The electorate must determine its genuine needs – self and collective – and not sway to the winds of political self-interests of self-serving snake oil sales representatives.
We stand at yet another historical crossroad. How we engage in the political process will determine how we will be judged by generations yet to come.