Friday, November 7, 2008

An open letter to our elected officials

From the 09 November 2008 Greater Niagara Newspapers

By Bob Confer

Congratulations on your victory at the polls last week.

I know it wasn’t easy. No doubt it took months, maybe years, of blood, sweat, and tears to win the election. You can’t stop there, though. If you thought politicking was tough, brace yourself. Now the hard work begins. You’ve won the election. Now, you’ve got to win our respect.

You’ve got your work cut out for you.

First of all, if you’re new to your role, you’ve got to understand this isn’t your father’s government. If you were reelected last week, know that this isn’t the political environment you’ve grown accustomed to. There’s a new brand of accountability in the air. You’ll be expected to be the type of statesman that was once the norm in the America of long ago. You’ll be required to make some preposterously difficult decisions. In the very recent past, most elected officials have skated-by by maintaining the status quo or doling out some pork. Not anymore. We the People have become as restless and angered as a hurt animal. To be cliché, we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

This sudden and welcome change of being is an outcome of the world around us. We’ve been let down for decades and that mistreatment has finally come to a head, the economy plunging into despair not seen since the days of the Great Depression. Small businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost their jobs and their homes. All seniors have witnessed the collapse of their retirement accounts. The younger generations are entering a job market that might never let them achieve the standard of living that their parents had.

Because of this trauma to our pocketbooks, our way of life, and the very core of the American Dream, people from all walks of life have finally come to the understanding that good representation is the remedy for what ails us. We want results. We need results. We have to be that way and we always should have been. But, as a nation, we let our civic responsibilities slip and that has come back to haunt us. Because a majority of Americans found themselves more in tune with the outcome of American Idol than with past elections they overlooked where our nation was going. Because of that indifference to that which truly matters, our leadership was not held in check, and slowly but surely Bad Government – some of it too big, some of it too small – permeated the landscape, allowing the collapse of our economy to occur. Those citizens, who because of their malaise are just as guilty as their elected officials, have learned their lesson. That’s why “change” was such an important part of all the campaigns this year. The People themselves have changed and they are demanding the very same of you.

The wish list for Change is endless. Things have to change in the way our government views spending, entitlements, bailouts, the dollar, the economy, the banks, Wall Street, Main Street, education, and national defense. With such an impressive if not frightening list you couldn’t come into office at a more remarkable time in our history. The next few years are extremely important to America. We’re teetering on the edge. A few wrong decisions could destroy our economy and the America we know and love will be but an afterthought.

Please accept this mantle of responsibility with the utmost care and dedication. All of us - those who voted for you and those who did not- look forward to seeing what you can accomplish while in office, hoping that what you do or don’t do helps to make a better community, a better state, and a better country. Your legacy depends on it. Our future requires it.

Make us proud.

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