I somehow feel the need to declare the obvious.
People who hold down elected or appointed public office are our servants. They work for us. Whether they are presidents of the United States, members of Congress, city council members, school board members . . . you name it. They are our employees.
I mention this because of what I am witnessing at a couple of levels of government.
Donald J. Trump demands personal loyalty from those he nominates to high office. If they don’t grant him what he wants, he cans ’em, demands that they quit or he tells one of his other underlings to do his dirty work for him.
This kind of would-be autocracy speaks ill of the notion that we live and function in a representative democracy. In other words, the folks who sit at the seat of power are there to do our bidding.
Let’s skip down a few rungs on the government ladder for a moment. Amarillo school trustees have dummied up over the resignation of a highly touted girls volleyball coach who quit a vaunted athletic program after a single season. Parents who pay the bills for the Amarillo Independent School District are demanding accountability and transparency from the elected school trustees. So far, as near as I can tell, they are getting neither from their “employees,” the men and women who work for them and serve their children.
Political leaders too often act as though they are the bosses. Wrong! They aren’t! We are! You and me, man!
I want to bring up for a moment something I watched about two decades ago in Congress. Republicans had just taken control of both congressional chambers. The new speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, wanted to enact a radical overhaul of the nation’s farm policy. He ran into stiff resistance from my congressman, Republican Larry Combest, who told the speaker — in so many words — to stuff his farm program where the sun didn’t shine.
Why the resistance? Combest told Gingrich that West Texas ranchers and farmers keep sending him back to the House to represent them. They didn’t like Gingrich’s idea of farm policy overhaul. Therefore, neither did their congressman.
Gingrich decided to punish Combest by denying him the House Agriculture Committee chairmanship.
Combest attained the chairmanship eventually, but only after Gingrich had been run out of office because of a failed effort to impeach and remove President Clinton from office and because of some personal indiscretions involving the speaker that came to light.
The moral of the story, though, remains the same. These folks are our employees. They work for us, not the other way around.
There are times when we the people need to flex our muscle and exercise the power inherent in our system of government . . . at all levels.