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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  March 28, 2010
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Regarding leadership.

Sixteen percent. That, according to a recent Gallup Poll, is the current job approval rating of our “leaders” in Congress.

Apparently, more than a few of us don’t have all that much faith these days in our elected representatives.

The problem presented by such a statistic is that there’s a nation to be governed and our government is based upon the consent of the governed. Sixteen percent just doesn’t sound like a lot of consent coming from those being governed and indicates that our elected leaders have managed, in the minds of many, to make snake-oil salesmen look like pillars of probity, decency, and rectitude by comparison.

Were I a member of Congress, I’d be thinking about the old saying about leadership which states that, every now and then, it’s a good idea to look over your shoulder to see if anyone is still following.

There are reasons for this situation - none of which play well with a public that seems to be fed up with the situation.

Promises made during campaigns disappear ever more quickly once the election cycle is over. Far too many of those whom we elect end up in front of the cameras trying to explain everything from fraud, influence peddling, tax avoidance, feathering their own nests at taxpayers’ expense, and disreputable behavior.

Further, Congress these days appears to be basically dysfunctional. Lately it seems as if both sides are ready to “go to the mattresses” as soon as any piece of major legislation is proposed.

The fringes of both parties hold sway. Things like serious debate and reasoned governance are getting tougher to find. Neither side trusts the other. Members of the ever-shrinking middle are losing the opportunity to work with each other. To seek solutions. To compromise. To find a workable way that both parties and the American public could accept.

The battle over health care reform is a case in point.

Do we need health care reform in this country?

Gosh, does the pope wear funny hats?

Of course we do. In a nation such as ours, no one should ever have to choose between bankruptcy or medical care. Doctors shouldn’t live in fear of lawsuits. Insurance companies should compete on a nationwide basis. Drugs that are available across the border at markedly lower prices should be priced the same here.

All of which make plain the need for our elected representatives to be able to sit down and craft plans to tackle such problems in a manner that would make sense, be easily understood, not require inherently divisive deals, and be seen as a solution that - while not perfect - would be workable and not drive us further into bankruptcy or have us at each others' throats.

Instead, what we now have are the two sides going at it hammer and tongs over just about anything.

What’s been lost - and a 16 percent approval rating reflects this - is the realization that you can lead only if you have the trust and respect of those being led.

Lose that trust and respect and cynicism quickly follows. From there, it’s not a big leap to where people stop complaining about their leaders and begin considering no longer listening to or, worse, willfully ignoring them. And that’s a place we never want to get to.

I don’t think we’re there yet, nor do I think that those who reside in the political middle ground would ever let it get that far, but we’re flirting with it and it’s a scenario that’s worrisome.

Finally, to close this piece, there’s another statistic out there that should be mentioned.

According to a Fox News Poll, 68 percent of voters would simply, in the next election, like to oust every incumbent.

That statistic is worthy of mention because, if things continue the way they are, it might continue to grow.

And, if it does, when those who are now calling the shots on both sides look over their shoulders to see who might be following, what they might see instead is a crowd coming to show them the door.

Which might not be a bad thing at all.

Because we deserve a lot better than what we’re getting from them.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

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Copyright © 2010 by Larry Simoneaux
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