One of the most beautiful things about being a United States citizen is that it gives every one of us the right to micromanage our government.
As much as everyone who has ever been given a job to do hates to be overly supervised, we certainly uphold the right to do unto others, especially our elected representatives.
Another wonderful opportunity we have as citizens is the chance to not only hold our representatives accountable to every little whim but to take away their responsibilities. The time to do that is again upon us.
Labor Day signals the start of the final third of the year. This year it also kicked off another political campaign cycle.
Anyone interested in serving at the local or state levels has the chance to do so. Now is the time to get qualified. The first step is to secure enough signatures to get on the next primary election ballot. The county clerk’s office is your first stop.
Out of curiosity, I drove by the Kankakee County Clerk’s office Tuesday morning, the first day petitions were available. There was not a long line of potential candidates extending from the front door down the block around the corner waiting to pick up petition forms.
Nothing resembling the recent chicken sandwich hysteria.
Yet, there are more citizens capable of doing a better job that any past or current elected representative than there are chicken sandwich lovers. Don’t take my word, peruse social media.
Therein lies the dilemma.
If we have so many people who on a daily basis will eagerly, vociferously and publicly micromanage our current representation, why won’t they just do the job themselves? Apparently, it is easier to criticize what someone is doing than it is to beat the streets seeking qualifying signatures to allow you a chance to compete for the job.
Holding public officials accountable is good and necessary. I get that, and I enjoy that. And we all should participate in that process. The more eyes the better. However, it now goes way beyond merely challenging decisions made on the public’s behalf.
The incessant micromanagement of officials by cowardly citizens has to take a toll. Who in their right mind would subject themselves to such unnecessary and often unfair and outright nasty ridicule just to serve? Fortunately, we have some people willing to stand up and become a guaranteed target just to serve their communities.
However, there are too many citizens who prefer to govern by their fingertips. It is more comfortable and easier to govern by collecting accolades in the form of “Likes” on social media than it is to pan for votes or face scrutiny from a live constituency. Deleting or blocking anyone who might disagree with a position on policy is not afforded to those who actually hold an elected office.
To those keyboard warriors with all the answers, it is time to push yourselves away from the electronic devices and pick up a petition. Try collecting signatures from real, informed citizens and subjecting yourselves to the undeserved ridicule you are accustomed to dishing out.
It is not easy being a political candidate or an elected official.
Kudos to those who put their proverbial and literal necks on the line. And to those who would make great public servants but choose to pass on the chance, it is very understandable because the reward does not equal the sacrifice.
Once again, we have two upcoming chances to participate in any change in our government.
We can run for office, and we can run to the polls.
Both are more effective than just running our mouths or keyboards.
To all the real candidates in this next election cycle, may the criticism you will receive roll off your shoulders like water rolling off oiled feathers.
And on behalf of all those who could do it better than you, but choose to run to their keyboards instead, thank you.