A statesman is a man that can do what the politician would like to do but can’t, because he is afraid of not being elected. – July 5, 1934 Will Rogers
I’m sure my fellow blogger over at SatisfyingRetirment knows the source for the above post title. It is from my favorite composer Bob Dylan and was made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 1960s. In case you youngsters haven’t figured it out by now it is a song called “Blowing in the Wind”. It was one of my favorite folk songs. In that song they asked “where have all the flowers gone…long time passing” and “where have all the soldiers gone?” The song was a lamentation of good things that had gone bad during the turbulent 60′s.
When I saw the above quote from Will Rogers that song immediately came to mind. Where have all the statesmen gone? It should be quite obvious to almost everyone that statesmen are about as extinct as the buffalo once were. Our two political parties have pretty much killed them all off.
Throughout much of our nation’s history serving in our government meant that you took a few years off your regular profession to do your duty in being your neighbors representatives in government. When you had met your obligations you returned to your job and let others have the privilege of being the people’s representatives. I don’t know when that definition of public servant was lost?
Now days the politicians seem to think that government work should be a lifetime occupation. With that mentality comes the primary need to get re-elected year after year. The statesman did what was good for his neighbors who he represented and if he didn’t get re-elected it might have bruised his ego but was no big deal. First and foremost the politician does what it takes to get re-elected. Everything else is very secondary.
Of course trying to reverse this trend via things like term limits is almost impossible as that requires the politicians to vote to fire themselves and that just won’t happen. The only way to make it happen is a ground swell of voter anger but that also seems impossible as so many have simply tuned out on such things. They are just too busy trying to make it day-to-day to think about using their valuable time off for such things.
If there is such a thing as a catch-22 this is it. Until someone or some organization comes along with a voice loud enough to drown out the politics of the day nothing will likely change. People just don’t seem to realize the power of the vote that they hold! If we could just get folks to step back a little from their entrenched positions and come together for the common good things would actually get better. It is a catch-22 isn’t it?