3.12.2009

Political Power or Public Service


If the Democrats should be ashamed that they are squandering their time in power, the Republicans should be equally ashamed that they are acting petty because of their time out of power. If there have been pundits offering advice for the GOP, too often it is cut from the preference for political power over public service. Here are two, more reasoned articles from sources I respect:

"Rising Above Partisanship," by Arlen Specter (Philadelphia Inquirer, March 10, 2009)

"Taking a Depression Seriously," by David Brooks (New York Times, March 9, 2009)

Importantly, while both sound the same theme that crisis (in this case, economic) means flexibility is in order, neither calls for wholesale abandonment of core principles; if anything, Republican values are all the more needed, if applied innovatively as opposed to typically.

In our earliest days, we were not all in agreement. The beauty of our Founding Fathers' work, and of our great nation, is that our politics is a process. Rather than settling once and for all who is right and who is wrong, we continue a dialogue that began over 230 years ago. We funnel that dialogue into policy and action, and we need a diversity of perspectives for both the policy and the action.

Too many of our elected officials, the analysts that support them, and the commentators that opine on them, are concerned about their own power base to remember the public service they are supposed to render to all of us. They are concerned about their own livelihoods, which is natural and understandable, except that they have forsaken the responsibility and perspective that comes with their job, which is to be concerned for all of our livelihoods.

We are better than this. Our Founding Fathers were farmers and merchants, generals and aristocrats. And yet, in sacrificing personal gain to help establish "a more perfect Union," they became immortal in our history books and glorious in our heritage. This is what we are made of, what we sign on to and have indoctrinated into us, whether our ancestors came here 200 years ago or 200 hours ago, by choice or by force.

2008-2009 will go down in the history books, like 1929-1932 and 1973-1974 and 1981-1982. What will be said of us by future generations? What will be said of our current leaders? And what will future leaders take away from these times that will help shape their policies and actions when it is time for their moment of decision?

Let's hope that it won't be said of us that we fought bitterly for our own selves, and found that in trying to save our livelihoods we lost them. It turns out that what Jesus is recorded as saying in the eighth chapter of the gospel according to Mark - "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" - is not so paradoxical after all.
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