Here’s today’s tip: A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.
I love this quote from James Freeman Clarke. Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Alien, I imagine that you are nodding your head in agreement with Mr. Clarke. Too many politicians of all stripes fall into this trap.
There may be times when you have to take hard votes, but when you find yourself justifying a vote against principle by saying, “Well, I’ve got to get re-elected if i’m going to really change things…” then you’re doing something wrong. A strong accountability system is key to staying on the right side of this line.
As an elected official, you have a moral and fiduciary responsibility to your constituents. You need to be examining the long and short game in government. This frequently means looking beyond the immediate passions of voters, to what is going to serve them best down the line. When voters are nearsighted, you need to focus further out.
This is the purpose of a representative democracy like ours. We elect people who are supposed to give the decisions they make more thought than we can and consider them carefully.
If you know that something is the right action to take, do it. Even if you think it’ll make your next election harder. Do the work to communicate your WHY to your constituents and, if that turns out to be impossible, know that there are some things worth losing elections.
A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation.