No demand against the citizens is quite so cutting as when a politician, after being chastized for inaction, replies, “Ok, fine what’s your plan?” It is a retort designed to render critics mute, and it is a reminder that our public servants aren’t serving us.

The “what’s your plan” line of attack from politicians is evidence that we have all lost our way. Politicians strut around with it as their rhetorical weapon of choice. Whenever it is aimed by a politician or a politician’s sycophantic supporter, I see citizens pushed back on their heels.

The question’s potency arises from its simplicity. We are taught as children by our parents not to have a complaint for which we don’t have a solution. In business we are told to present our boss with a plan, not a problem.

But in our republic, the citizens are neither children nor employees – and the officeholders are not our parents or bosses. Or, at least, that is how our system was designed.

In our self-governing republic, the highest title in a particular jurisdiction is not president, governor, or mayor, but citizen. The citizens are the politicians’ employers. The citizens are the guardians of the republic.

Yet we have allowed the governing roles to be flipped around. We have allowed politicians to see themselves as the nation’s masters. We have allowed elected officials to see themselves as our betters, as the American nobility, as the dispenser of rights. We pretend the politician is our buddy, not a scheming, lazy employee.

Throughout history up to today, the master-servant model is well understood. The master must merely have a goal in mind, it is the servant’s job to make it happen. The head of the house doesn’t need to know the mundane details of the kitchen operations when demanding that dinner be served promptly at seven o’clock. It is up to the servant to make it happen, or suffer the consequences.

There is no “partnership” between a master and a servant. Citizens are not in partnership with politicians. Politicians in our republic exist to implement the agenda set by the citizens in keeping with the limitations of the Constitution.

As a citizen, you have no obligation to come up with the detailed operational plans for reducing taxes or whatever other policy goal you have in mind. If you want to, that’s great – but it’s not required and shouldn’t be expected. The men and women who stand before the body politic and declare themselves mentally and morally fit to solve the problems identified by the citizens must, once hired, get to work – not make self-serving excuses for inaction.

Those politicians who demand that you give them a plan for an issue are telling you they only want the title, not the work. Your job as a citizen is to set expectations for the public servants. It is their job is to deliver.

Citizens must impose an agenda on politicians, and then hold those public servants accountable for achieving it.