Monday, November 3, 2008

Weekly Opinion/Editorial
by Steve Fair
(Written on Monday 11/3/08 for 11/5/08 editions)

The 2008 election cycle is over! Congratulations to the winners of yesterday’s election. Now it’s time for those elected to office to begin the job of representing “all” of us. Too often elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, forget they represent all the electorate, not just those that supported and voted for them. It’s human nature to be bitter and angry toward those who didn’t support you, but it’s wrong. In Romans 12, and many other passages, Christians are told to love their enemy. While no candidate would admit publicly their political opponent is their “enemy,” no process creates more hard feelings than the political arena.

All Christians in the country should be praying for all elected officials that won yesterday, regardless of their party affiliation. Romans 13:1 says, “ Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” A sovereign God is in control and that should comfort, humble and challenge Christians who are involved in the political process. They should recognize it isn’t about them. Christians must be gracious in victory and defeat.

Forgiving and forgetting is a hard thing to do when you have gone through a political campaign. When your opponent has tried to “define” you as someone you’re not. When they have deliberately misrepresented your accomplishments and exaggerated their own. When your character has been attacked so effectively it has those who know you best questioning whether they really know you, it’s hard to let bygones by bygones.

Some elected officials can’t let go of what happened in the campaign. They can’t make the conversion from candidate to representative of the people, but if they want to be the best representative they can be, they have to. Once the votes have been counted, elected officials should take off the campaign hat and put on the representative hat. They should work to represent all the people. While it’s nice to be important, it’s also important to be nice.

A major reason that some elected officials can’t make the transition is the constituents who supported their opponent in a political race. These are the people who ignore the results of an election and treat the person who won the race with no respect. They attempt to undermine their work and render them ineffective. They could care less if their actions hurt the whole district the elected official represents. They are bitter because “their” candidate didn’t win. They simply endure the term of the winner until the next election. If they do have contact with the elected official, it’s to criticize or beret them. They use poor manners and are disrespectful when they talk to the elected official.

They attempt to intimidate elected officials into agreeing with their position. These people are in constant confrontational mode. They believe they can “nag” the elected official to accept their ideas and their lobbying is nothing short of out and out harassment. If these tactics were used in any other part of society, a protective order would likely be issued against them, but this is politics.

Some constituents harass the elected officials they didn’t vote for just for sport. They call them to complain in the middle of the night. They think it’s fair game and acceptable to heckle elected officials or poke fun at them at public events or forums. They try to embarrass elected officials with trick questions. They ambush elected officials with their pet issues at public forums. That behavior is inexcusable and childish and “defines” the constituent as immature and pathetic.

No matter our party affiliation, we should respect the office and recognize that any rebellion we exhibit towards an elected official is really rebellion against God- see Romans 13.

Elected officials who will not communicate with constituents who supported their opponents are being rebellious toward God as well. They are not being good stewards of their office. Elected officials and constituents who supported their opponents are often on opposite sides of an issue. If a Democrat is elected, it’s likely most Republicans are not going to agree with what the Dem will do while in office. But many times, they do agree and when they cooperate, everyone benefits. While it’s tempting to “pay back” those who didn’t support you in your election, it’s not the best strategy. Barry Goldwater said, “To disagree, one doesn't have to be disagreeable.” Some irrational people can not bring themselves to a place where they can agree to disagree.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Honest statesmanship is the wise employment of individual manners for the public good.”

No comments: