To fix politics, we should ask more from our politicians.
Let me ask you something: Imagine that you walk into a restaurant. It takes far too long for the host to seat you and the waitress ignores you for half an hour before taking your order.
The cooks don’t get your order right, and you’re overcharged.
You wouldn’t go back, would you?
Or maybe this: imagine that a teacher at your child’s school can’t read or write, but is nonetheless teaching an English class. The administration doesn’t care, and nobody else seems to either.
You’d pull your child out of that school, wouldn’t you?
Or perhaps this: you let your best friend house sit for you, and she has a party at your house, damages your property, and accidentally poisons your dog.
You’d kick them out, wouldn’t you?
And why, why would you do all of these things? Because you expect more. You expect a restaurant to treat its customers-its very source of revenue-decently.
You expect the school to which you send your child to care about that child’s education, and provide qualified teachers.
You expect that your best friend, someone who you share a bond with, someone whom you trust, to treat you and your property with respect. You expect better.
We do that in almost every field. In medicine, we expect doctors to listen to our concerns and provide treatment. In education, we expect teachers to be qualified and the curriculum to be rigorous. In nearly all fields of life, we expect the best.
Except politics. We expect our politicians to be corrupt, deceitful, freewheeling, wasteful, and dishonest. We expect them to be coarse, morally bankrupt, cruel, and immoral.
We expect corruption. Why are we surprised when that’s what we get?
A lot of things are necessary to fix American politics. In all honesty, what’s right with American politics is a short list compared to all that is wrong with it.
But there is something we can do. Whichever party you belong to.
If you think that your representatives are corrupt, vote them out! Vote for someone else in the primary, and failing that, vote for the other party, painful though it might be.
Apply the same logic to governors, state legislators, and city council members.
Tired of coarse, uncivil politics? Hold your representatives to the same standard you hold your children, friends, teachers, and co-workers to.
Hold them to a higher standard, even.
Expect the same attentiveness from them that you expect from a doctor. Expect the same efficiency that you expect from a cook.
Expect the same good manners that you expect from your children, siblings, or students. Expect the same professionalism you’d expect from your co-workers.
You should expect more from our politicians. We all should.
We’re the ones who pay their salaries, after all.
Feature photo courtesy of the Associated Press.