Our Founding Fathers upturned the traditional role of “the people” in relationship to “the government.” The citizenry became the masters, and government officials were to be their servants.
All good servants share a particular trait: they want to please people. That is not a bad thing, in and of itself. It is actually a very good thing in the right circumstances.
Our system of government was designed to attract people pleasers. In their obsession with checks and balances on power, the framers of the republic wanted public officials to be those who yearn for the approval of their civic masters.
Yet a curious thing has occurred; our republic has devolved. The process by which we select public servants remains the same, putting people pleasers into office. And yet, the structures of government and the miseducation of the people means once the politicians are in office they start trying to please those around them – the cronies, the lobbyists, and the other politicians.
Whatever lip service they play to “working for you,” they functionally see themselves as servants to the head of their legislative chamber, to their mayor, governor, or party leader. They get their information from lobbyists, and hope to receive applause from the establishment-run media.
This is not how the system is supposed to work, but it is the system we tolerate.
The politicians are the same people pleasers we elected … they are just seeking approval from the wrong people. And one way they please those people is by stomping on the rights of the people. The servants have turned themselves into the masters – and we’ve allowed it.
As a self-governing people, we must recognize the role we have played in this reversal. We pay just enough attention to elect to office the guy or gal who has the most soothing voice or tickles our ears with right poll-tested catchphrases … and then we check out.
We allow the politicians to escape to the “backrooms” where they meet with “stakeholders,” only to emerge with a “done deal” to which they had foolishly “given their word.” And we then join in applauding their violations of our republic’s most cherished principles as evidence of “leadership” and “statesmanship.”
It is time for the citizens to stand up and speak out. We must remind ourselves, each other, and – most especially – the politicians that their job is to serve the people, and not the other way around. We citizens must exert ourselves like never before, raising our voices and encouraging others to do likewise.
It is time for the politicians to remember they exist to serve. You and I need to be about the business of reminding them.