Good people lose in politics all the time. When they do, we thank them for offering themselves to serve, tell them The Lord has different plans for them, and ask them to “please stay involved” in the good fight. We remind them that the sun will come up tomorrow and pat them on the shoulder to remind them they did the best they could. We console them as they express concern that honesty and truth are mole hills to the mountains of political machines with deep pockets and dirty antics. Then we go back to our day-to-day lives and ask ourselves why good people stay out of the political process. It happens every election cycle.
Before we go any farther, let me be clear that when I say “good,” that is not to mean that people who are currently elected are inherently bad.
Some Many are – but I simply mean they’ve become part of the broken system, they’re likely looking to climb some sort of political ladder, and if they wanted to break the cycle, they wouldn’t be serving 15-20 years in office.
So, back to those “good people.” Those honest people who run campaigns on a shoestring budget because they have a desire to serve their community and to protect their values. These people aren’t seeking a title or a retirement check, and if the job suddenly had an additional duty of scrubbing toilets or picking up trash, they’d do it themselves. There are so few of these “good people,” and less than a handful in elected office. These people usually don’t get elected
People say all the time that they stay out of politics because it’s just “too nasty.” The mudslinging is too much for them so they sit on the sidelines, occasionally lob a bomb on Facebook because some issue has managed to penetrate the shiny bubble of their daily life, and they may even throw $250 behind a candidate who lives in their neighborhood because they’re pretty sure that person, since they are of the same socioeconomic status, shares their values.
And it changes nothing. It only illustrates that voters aren’t just uninformed, they’re weak. They’re weak because they know they want better, but they won’t work for it. They’ll complain around the water cooler, but won’t attach their name to someone who isn’t the incumbent, because that horse may lose, and then what? They might have to look someone in the eye, someone who works for The People, and tell them why they didn’t support them? The horror!
Instead, they settle for mediocre at best. Last Tuesday, one Democrat incumbent was defeated. Around the state, we saw the defeat of patriots and faithful servants by people who are the problem in politics, people who have demonstrated that unless they have a primary opponent, they’re unaware that they even have constituents. We saw triumph for the elected officials we all know should be sent home. State representatives who, before long, will force special elections because they’re waiting for an appointment – but they’re unwilling to step down until it is set in stone. State senators whose day jobs benefit substantially from their elected office, state representatives who have federal investigations pending, and elected officials who keep running lists in their desk drawer of who supported them in the last election.
And yet, we choose not to elect “good people.” We choose to let 50+% of our elected officials hold their seat without a contested election.
I’ll admit – sometimes there isn’t a viable alternative. Few have an angrier electorate than Senator Johnny Isakson, but his two challengers gave few something to believe in, so instead of a contentious battle, we saw a clean sweep. The same thing happened with the unsatisfied folks in the 12th district. Heck, The People chose “Tom Taylor the alleged day drinker” for the sole reason that he isn’t “Tom Owens the radical.” Why those people would ever feel like they should turn out for another election is something any future challenger will have to contemplate.
Nationally, for the last decade, we’ve seen a push for “change.” Change with Obama, and now Trump is going to Make America Great Again – whatever that means. It amazes me that people think electing a new President is going to change anything at all, that it will have any effect on the day-to-day activities of their life. People seek to find the most radical person on the other end of the spectrum from what we have now in hopes that it will revolutionize everything. Except when it hits closest to home.
It really is fascinating to me. In every other aspect of life, when people know they’re not at optimal levels, they seek better. A higher paying job, a brighter companion, a safer vehicle. But in politics, the desire is there but it isn’t accompanied with a drive.
Maybe there isn’t a place for the purists in politics. Maybe we’re meant to be governed by the petty, the superficial, and the manipulative. Maybe there’s only room for those who see politics as a realm of financial growth. Or maybe not. But we’ll probably never know.