HAVE WE LOST IT?

Throughout our lives our actions are determined by our perceptions of events and, hopefully, our reasoned reactions to them. When it comes to politics and government (no, they are not always the same thing), I am beginning to wonder if we have allowed the politics to cloud those perceptions causing our understanding, and therefore our actions, to become something other than what they should be.

Politically the nation is polarized. Fervor on opposite sides has resulted in both sides digging in, becoming unwavering in philosophy, if not action. A do nothing congress has resulted in good members leaving for frontiers where they believe that can at least have some actual impact.

This political determination filters down to (or up from) the perceived bases of the parties and results in often rancorous battles over fine details that determine the reputations of elected officials. Often those positions are so narrowly defined that no person could ever meet the exacting standards of the purists.

Ronald Reagan's philosophy of being able to work with someone who is in 80% agreement with you has gone by the wayside and has resulted in vilification of some we should consider friends and allies in the political world. It happens all too often.

The impact of this is even more polarization and dissatisfaction in people who are honorably serving and actually accomplishing positive things for our communities. That's too bad. It's tough enough to run for office and it's tougher to serve when every act is scrutinized by a narrow preconception of what should be as opposed to an understanding of all the circumstances behind the decisions that are being made.

It's quite often the masses determine an opinion with far too few facts and a large dose of personal opinion regardless of those facts. We simply can't see all of the mechanizations of government in action. We employ people to manage and perform the day to day functions of the governments instituted to serve our common needs. We then elect people to set policies and budgets in order that those tasks be performed, hopefully as efficiently as possible.

It's an imperfect system that requires compromise and effort. Elected and appointed boards and councils are by their very nature diverse in philosophy and ostensibly representative of the community at large. Majorities will determine the course followed and the results will never be pure.

Yet, it seems that we, in our collective observation of these things, have failed too many times to consider that diversification of our society and the results that are likely to occur. In other words our expectations of humans performing the tasks of government instituted by humans are that the results be somehow supernatural.

We don't have political gods, as much as many would like to think so. We have men and women who have chosen to take on the thankless task of performing public service. And, yes, when they make that choice it is incumbent on them to know and understand the role they have chosen. It is likewise up to us to hold them accountable when they fail in that basic duty.

I just hope that when all is said and done we have not lost the ability to take a realistic look at the people who have chosen public service and that service they provide. We, as intelligent observers and participants in this system, should be able to discern reality and practicality without the bonds that political purism wrap around us. No person can meet those standards.

We should be able to see that the system isn't perfect and the results will never be. If we have lost that ability we are in pursuit of a goal that can never be attained- by anyone.

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