The Florida Primaries are behind us and we learned a lot from them. There is nothing more humbling to a political leader than to serve the community they represent, yet when there is an election such as this, there is a message being sent from the community. Watching this election closely, I believe it is time for a new, modern politician to emerge who can and needs to reach the people in several ways.
In the local arena the elected politician has spent much of their time focused on creating internal policies while maintaining an image of perfection outside and whenever possible snapping a picture with the public. Making the people happy that the elected official was at the scene used to be enough. This is not the case anymore.
What I am seeing is a transformation of a public who has not been informed of how the process works, yet they want a hand in helping to create the process. From my years of being involved outside of the political arena as a bystander and now only partially inside, I believe strongly that the process does work. Unfortunately for the majority of people they do not agree and therefore are angry when the process they want to exist does not.
As society continues to become more involved in social media and the ability to send messages to a large group of people without fear of reprise, the more the political arena needs to adapt to the needs of the people. The media plays a large role in the political process, yet what they do not do is educate the people. The media sells stories, they are not teachers of the process.
Politicians would like it if the people who are teachers taught the youth of the land how politics works, yet the teachers are not given the inside story either, so in reality, the only way to truly be able to teach the public is to become a politician and then teach others outside of the political process – the political process. Perhaps this is a problem, as the people of 2016 and beyond will want a greater voice in their desires.
What I have seen for the past 10 years is an intense evolution in which the people from both sides of the aisle are becoming more frustrated with the elected officials as they are not considering that each vote is a decision for or against their personal preference. The reality of many situations may come down to legal environments rather than just preferential opportunities in which elected officials may have to vote a certain way. When these situations occur, often the elected official casts their vote and continues on their merry way. The elected official may understand that some people will be upset, yet they leave that vote knowing they have followed the law and continued to keep their particular elected environment safe from lawsuits etc. The people are not necessarily aware of this situation and continue to grow upset. Their emotional reaction is certainly valid, as they are hearing that their preference is being circumvented for the benefit of a few, not the greater good of the many.
There are also situations in which people are running for elected office making promises to the people – which the people want to hear. They want to accomplish every one of the things that they are making promises for, yet the reality is that once a person is elected, they lose much of their power to higher levels of office and or the legal system. Although not a real situation, yet I may want to place a traffic light, expand a road or even add a turn lane to a street in my city, before I can do so there are several agencies and loopholes to maneuver through, that even if I get the chance to vote on my action, the need for that light may be long gone or the patience of the public may have died down. I have shared openly with several people who have run for office and cautioned them not to make any promises – because each of those promises may lose you a next election when the public gets upset.
To me, the modern environment of politics at all levels requires a new and modern elected official. These people have to be willing to engage with the public socially, they have to be even more transparent and beyond all of this, they have to always be there for the people. The last part may seem as if it was always like this, yet the reality is that in the past word of mouth spread through a community and people voted for the person they liked and who most represent them. In 2016 the majority of the people are no longer just part of one party, many of them have become issue’s people who want to know how you are dealing with their issue.
The ability for a politician to truly be part of the people is to be part of the people. They have to interact with the people, where the people are and listen to the people. I have found that telling the truth to the people is perfectly fine, they may not like what it is that I’m saying, yet with the right amount of explanation, proof and truth, then the people know they can trust me. When blanket statement are made that the people want to hear, then I cannot deliver, the people are going to get frustrated and assume that the crooked system has stolen me and made me one of theirs.
Stated above, I mention the crooked system. There is certainly a system in play, yet it is not as crooked as people may think. Media, television and books write often about a crooked system, yet looking inside the system is far more empowering than staring from the outside and questioning what is going on. The system needs to allow for people to enter it and see for themselves what occurs. When an election such as the one occurring in 2016 arrives, there is a reason for so much difference; the people have not been heard. We can argue that each side is listening to its people, yet in reality neither side has done a good job of listening. The people will then remove many elected officials that it feels are not listening enough and replace them with new people, who will enter into the system and be taught what they never knew prior, that there is a system in place and like or not, they have to work within it. Entering into a system and trying to force it to change will cause that newly elected person to continually fight upstream and achieve nothing.
So in turn, a good elected official in 2016 will learn how the system works and do what they can to facilitate that change so that the public are able to understand. Perhaps the official keeps a blog, has regular meetings, creates a Facebook page to hear the thoughts of citizens and respond in kind. These are all options that bring back the concept of the local church meetings, which it seems we have moved away from in the hopes that the people will just let the politicians govern. The people are not happy with this solution and they want back in – perhaps it is time to let them, or we will continue to face newly elected officials and lose institutional knowledge every single election.