One doesn’t often think of politicians when the word “courage” is uttered, but we should. If our weak form of representative government is to preserve this republic, we need inspiration. Courage inspires; at least it should.
John F. Kennedy got the Pulitzer Prize for putting his name to a ghost-written book titled “Profiles in Courage”. It seems our Camelot President might have valued his profile a bit more than the courage he wanted to characterize. But then, if he would have demurred, maybe he’d just be an historical footnote, not the martyr we all remember.
And that conflict is what nurtures our cynicism. Just what will a politician do for our vote? Lie to us? Agree with us when they know we are wrong?
I am not sure just whom I am writing this to. We voters will always be wrong about one issue or another. Just remember prohibition, and its repeal. It was a popular wave and the politicians listened to us. But the bootlegger’s bonanza and rampant crime taught us our folly and the politicians listened to our recant. That is the way our republic is supposed to work. Recognize and learn from our mistakes.
I guess I want to inspire those who seek our votes. Here’s my plea. Don’t be too afraid of losing the voters support if you know we are wrong. We can come around. Your courage can help us as we make that turn.
I look for courage amongst those we vote for, or against, here in Idaho. The problem of our political landscape is inescapable. The super majority, the closed Republican primary makes any profiled politician an easy target. If one candidate has demonstrated courage, snipers from safe districts, under their safe cover can send their rounds across the no man’s land at the guy who stood up. The outlined profile is an easy target. Idaho, though disparate and distant, makes for a sniper’s playground. We, the voters need to provide the cover.
Do we really pay attention to the work our representatives do? Do we know if they have courage?
The hardest thing I had to do as a candidate, first time or incumbent, was to go knock on doors. Only one out of five would be home. That meant I’d talk directly to about two people an hour. My knees ached and the going was slow. It could be hot and dusty. But that effort is courageous. I can name a couple places in Idaho in the past twenty years where such effort has changed the partisan landscape. I appeal to you to recognize that courage.
The primary place I can think of where this happened was the initiative process for Medicaid Expansion in Idaho, lead by Reclaim Idaho. They beat the streets and knocked on doors and organized hundreds, even thousands of volunteers. It was not to get you to vote for a person, but an issue. They (indeed, we, since I was one of those volunteers) successfully persuaded in this difficult landscape.
If you happen to see such courage, and it impresses you, share your impression with your neighbors. Your persuasion is courageous. Courage persuades.
But more than the door knock and pitch, the effort for direct voter contact, watch what the people you have elected do with your imprimatur. Do they work? Do they work for you? Do they demonstrate courage in their elected position?
For that is where we let the cynicism bloom. We voters have this concept that the comfortable seek comfort, like we do. Courage is not common.
But this republic expects, indeed demands courage for representation to truly work. Courage is uncomfortable. Presenting a profile in a no man’s land could mean death. But it could inspire those who see the outline. Don’t be afraid to stand up.