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Trusting our politics

Posted: November 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 22, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Politics is not for the faint-of-heart or easily discouraged. It’s a long game with many moving parts and players. It has all the intrigue of a mystery, all the sport of any game, and strategy that would rival most military coups.

The key to surviving lies is knowing whom you’re playing with and whom to trust. It’s not an easy thing to determine. Let’s be serious ... how many politicians do you actually trust?

Politicians aren’t made on the national stage. It all starts locally and they work their way up.

It’s hard to get elected if people don’t know your name. Typically, local elections are the starting blocks for regional elections, which are the stepping stone to state and then national elections.

Sadly, so few are willing to run. Let’s face it, who really wants to open themselves up for that kind of scrutiny? Not many.

Some people run because they have a deep love for their community and country. Others do it for sport. Some are in it for the power.

And then there are those who prefer to operate behind the scenes. They are an important part of the game. They recruit, build consensus, shape agendas, manage campaigns, and help fund candidates.

A good support structure for candidates is important. But it can become skewed when the behind-the-scenes person’s intent is to control rather than support.

That happened not long ago here in our little SCV. It can happen again if we don’t remain vigilant.

With 20/20 hindsight, it’s easy to see how things went awry. People in general are busy and reluctant to take on additional responsibilities. Politics are at best a hobby for most.

So when someone is willing to step up and take on the lion’s share of the workload, most people are more than willing to accommodate and just hand it over. Unfortunately, this is when things get out of whack.

Our political system works best when the workload is spread out. We all have to take some of it; otherwise, all the power begins to centralize with a few. That’s when we open ourselves up for abuses of power.

Take a look around your local clubs and get involved in a committee. You don’t have to do a lot, but we all need to do something. And if it’s always the same people in leadership, that probably needs to change too.

But it won’t change if good people aren’t willing to step up and lead.

At the local level, it’s incumbent upon the citizenry to seek out solid candidates to run for office. People we trust.

People who are in it with the right motives.

And then it’s even more incumbent upon us to hold them accountable to their campaign promises once they’re in office.

This holds true for every level of government, right down to our local clubs. Leaders should be tested, tried, and true before we launch them into a governing position. The absolute last thing we should be doing is running people because no one else would run or take the job!

I hear people comment on the candidates we’ve seen in recent elections. Voting for the “better of two mediocre choices” does not make for good voter turnout or victorious elections. Who really wants to campaign for a ho-hum candidate?

As a party, it’s critical that we identify not just “good people” to run for local office, but “the best people” to run for local office.

This is an ongoing job. It’s not just a matter of identifying new candidates, but also a matter of re-evaluating currently elected officials.

Are they still representing us well? Are they operating with the right motives? Are they true to their word?

Demanding accountability of our leaders can be uncomfortable, but it has to be done. Gone are the days where you could count on journalists to shine a light on the issues.

If you don’t speak up, who will? If you’re thinking it, trust me, you aren’t the only one in the room. Have the courage to ask the questions.

There are about a million other things I’d rather be doing than politicking. But my children and grandchildren’s futures depend on the choices we make now. I’m not going sit idly by and watch us circle the drain.

I will continue to work on campaigns, serve on committees, encourage honest people to run for office, and ask the uncomfortable questions when needed.

What will you do?

Tammy Messina is a resident of Santa Clarita, a local business owner and a producer for “The Real Side Radio Show.” She can be reached at tmessina@wildcat.la.

 

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