That scraping sound you hear is me dragging out my soapbox and climbing atop.
Various sundry political personalities and appointees are hacked off at me these days, and word keeps coming to my ears about this one and that one really suffering from a rash on my account.
Well, here’s a news flash Mr. or Mrs. Public Servant: It ain’t my job to make elected officials happy.
Quite the contrary – and let’s be perfectly clear on this, friends and neighbors – it’s their job to make me and you happy.
Dear Public Servants, please let me repeat that for your benefit, since sometimes you seem to have selective comprehension skills:
It is 100 percent your job to make me and as many of the other voters in your district happy as possible. You work for us.
Look up public servant in the dictionary. You’ll perhaps then understand that.
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly they forget that. At election time they walk their soles to paper-thinness, bruise their knuckles knocking on doors, get facial cramps from smiling so much. But soon as the tabulations are in and the results finalized…you and I might just as well be n’er-do-well relatives calling to borrow a dollar.
You might be surprised to know that some of the politicos who have unwillingly appeared in this column have received my vote in the booth. Some twice. Some three times.
And even if I didn’t, I have every right, every obligation, just like every one of you, to complain, accuse, demand and scrutinize anyone elected to public office, by my vote or not, when spending my money and representing me in their positions.
Simply as a voter, not even as a journalist. If I vote for someone one, two, three or a dozen times, or even if I never voted for them at all, once elected they’re going to listen to what I have to say. That dog won’t hunt any other way, friends and neighbors. They can get their knickers in a knot, jump up and down and throw a hissy fit if it makes them feel better. But my vote – everyone’s vote – comes with a price, and more to the point, you don’t get elected to serve only those who voted for you.
You work for us.
I know someone who likes to point out, "You getting elected and spending my tax dollars does not constitute an accomplishment on your part," and I can’t imagine saying it any better. Yet many of them go into public office thinking they’ve been crowned some kind of imperial leader, some invulnerable, unreproachable messiah of government.
This is not "government of, by and for the government."
I think, sometimes, they expect to be patted on their heads and told what a good job they’re doing all the time, 24-7, and when they aren’t doing such a good job, well, we’re just supposed to turn the other cheek, whistle while we work, anything but point it out and drive that point home to the public.
I remind you again: Public officials work for you and me. Lip service, ignoring and making excuses are not options.
We’re the bosses, you and I. The only difference between you and me is I got this column, and I’m not as easy to ignore.
And let me remind you, boys and girls of the officialdom: You’re not any better, any smarter, and certainly no more above reproach than me or any other voter in this parish, city, district, whatever. You can be as indignant as you want about it, the fact remains inescapable. You are answerable to us. That did not change when you took the oath…it was only fortified by your vow.
It’s been that way since King George took over all the newspapers, taxed folks and ignored their demands, and a subsequent bloody revolution resulted, ensuring that there’d be no more kings, no more abuse of power and above all, a consistent bridge between the muckety-mucks of government and the people that put them there.
This ain’t CNN. This ain’t The New York Times. This is a community newspaper manned by members of this community, voters of this community, in entirety, and when we suspect, feel, see, hear or otherwise have any indications of improprieties, silliness, embarrassment, illegalities or just run of the mill not-worth-a-durns, it’s going to be here in black and white.
What makes ‘em angry – the officialdom, the little dukes and earls of their respective little kingdoms – is that they can’t get to us. We can’t be bought or sold, we can’t be intimidated or backed down. It doesn’t matter if we buy our paper by the ton and our ink by the gallon, after all: All that matters is that one piece of paper and that fraction of an ounce of ink that created a world the Founding Fathers envisioned more than two centuries ago.
And in the immortal words of Walter Cronkite, "And that’s the way it is."
Soapbox returned to its storage place. ‘Nuff said.