Posted by: Genny Colby | February 18, 2011

Democracy

Our country is supposed to be a democracy.  For the people, by the people.  In theory, we elect officials who will then be our voice to make changes that will benefit all citizens.  Elections can be a very polarizing time for everyone, as we campaign and fight for our preferred candidate.  But once the election is complete, it is time to come together, stand behind the elected official, and work with this person to be sure that she is able to represent the interests of all of her constituents, not just the ones who helped get her elected, or those of her particular political party.  Party affiliation and political aspirations should not be the primary focus once in elected office, rather it should be doing the work that she was elected to do, to be the voice for the people of her city, county, state, etc.  Unfortunately, we do not live in a society where this occurs.  Personal and political agendas often take front and center, while the needs of those for whom she is supposed to speak are lost in the background.

As we watch the events unfold in Wisconsin, we are able to see this first hand.  Wisconsin has long been a state of progressive ideas, though they have not been afraid to elect leaders out of both parties.  But what is happening in Wisconsin today is a sure sign that elected officials are not listening to the people they work for and for whom they are supposed to be representing.  No one piece of legislation is going to be please everyone.  There will always be groups who have different ideas, wanted something different, just plain don’t agree.  That is part of  a democracy, where everyone is free to express their ideas and opinions.  The difference here is that the Governor is pushing through his own agenda, regardless of the voice of the people of the state.

I am not going to argue the financial state of the Wisconsin budget.  I don’t think there is a state in our country who is not facing budget concerns.  The true test then comes in how those in leadership roles chose to handle these challenges.  The most successful will listen to the concerns and ideas of those around her, regardless of the party affiliation.  Everyone in those offices were elected by the people, to be their voices and make sure their concerns are heard and considered. The ideal should be to make the best possible choices to meet the needs of the state as a whole.

Unfortunately, it would seem that Governor Walker has forgotten that the people of  Wisconsin elected him to office, not his political party.  It is equally frustrating that this has also come down to party lines in the State Senate and Assembly.   Where is the dialog about how to solve this financial situation?  Why does it have to be done on the fast track?  This leads me to believe that Governor Walker knows at his core that this is not the right tactic to fix the budget, that he does not want the public or other elected officials  not on his “team” to have the time to research where the money is going in Wisconsin, or to read the fine print of this piece of legislation.  Governor Walker seems to be thinking more about what this will mean for him and his party, politically.

I applaud the 14 Democrats who have left the state of Wisconsin, forcing the legislation to a stand still.  There needs to be time for discussion, problem solving, and compromise.   While Governor Walker has called for these members to return and “do their jobs”, I would ask if he has been doing the job for which he was elected.  Let us not forget, it is the people of the State of Wisconsin he should be answering to, not his political party.

I would hope that after seeing how many people, both in person and through the internet have taken up against this rush to action, that it would give all those in elected office in the WI State Capital pause, to listen to what they people are really saying, to open up dialogs, to work together to find solutions that will fit the State’s needs as a whole, but that also meets the needs of its citizens.

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