Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 1999

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / June 19, 1999

The election season is in full swing, with some officials already lashing out angrily at each other in public forums, attempting to downgrade one while making themselves look good. They do it in the name of “standing upfor their constituency” and try to take the high road while behaving less than professionally.

In short, it’s politics as usual, at least as perceived by many disaffected voters who refuse to participate in elections or, if they do, it is to vote against a candidate rather than actually support another.

Without naming names or going into specifics, there are some parish officials who are making a point of being at odds with other officials.

This is not good representation, though, and tends to serve to embarrass rather than serve their constituents.

Of course, as qualifying dates edge forward and the campaigns launch into high gear, this sort of behavior will likely increase and become more bothersome to the public. With scandal after scandal in the newspapersand on television, the public is weary of yet another hoopla and just wants to see the job get done.

Congress, for instance, seemed to specialize in prosecuting the president, rather than attend to many vital issues affecting the public. An article inthe current issue of “George” magazine points out the difference between some current Republican Congressmen and Senators and the attitudes of former President Reagan, who could announce a tax hike with a smile and make us like it.

Meanwhile, with the economy at record highs and many social indicators improving (a drop in the national crime rate, a drop in teen-age pregnancies, a drop in the welfare rolls), these same Republicans would rather spit than admit anything is working in America.

Certainly, there are many fine people in America, and many of them are in public office, on national, state and local levels. There are many publicoffice-holders who do serve their constituents, by quietly casting their votes and laboring outside the spotlights to make government more effective and responsive to the needs of the people.

These are the people we need to recognize and support in this fall’s elections. Sometimes, one does need to explode in anger to make a vitaland necessary point. More often than not, it comes across badly.So, as the campaign rhetoric mounts in the coming months, pay attention not only to the bombast and the angry shouts. Pay attention as well to thequiet, effective and accomplished public servants. If we don’t, they willjust as quietly fade from public service, leaving us the lesser for their absence.

Political life can be a hard road, with more commitment needed than most realize. Let’s not make it hard on the public as well.

Leonard Gray is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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