By Steve Holland
A few of you may remember that I spent the past 36 years of my life as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives. There were hordes of you who thought I was a legislative whiz kid. Some of you thought I was the devil personified. Others belied the years of longevity with the overarching mouth I had.
The right Honorable Justice James L. “Jim” Roberts, at his recent retirement party, said I had gotten by with more BS than Noah had animals on the Ark, and still survived the flood, or something similar to that. It was a superb ride from the Ole Sage’s perspective.
I started my service in 1983 in a time when political leadership was real, not a subchapter of the Easter bunny story. Political parties had not prostituted themselves out to the money changers of whatever shape, form or fashion. Unlike today, there were real “cowboys” – instead of just hats. People of the same party haggled, cajoled, fought, debated, labored over problems, had field hearings to find solutions to common challenges that involved eye to eye contact with those fledglings-yea minions- we represented.
If my “S” grade civics class serves me well, I think it’s what the founding fathers called democracy. Wikipedia has this to say about democracy – “Democracy is a form of government in which the people exercise the authority of government. Who people are and how authority is shared among them are core issues for democratic development and constitution. Some cornerstones of these issues are freedom of assembly and speech, inclusiveness and equality, membership, consent, voting, right to life and minority rights. Democracy is the law of the people through their elected representatives.”
I say- to hell you say, Wikipedia!! Think about it people, if that’s not asking too much-having a voice in the affairs of those we elect to represent us is the very essence of democracy. Have mercy on my soul, George Washington!!!
Do you feel today you have a voice? Are you aware that government today is “top down?” All the little tin soldiers you elect underneath the grand pupas (President, party leaders in Congress: Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker) just follow suit without hesitation, mental equivocation or, God forbid,-any opinion to differ with the autocratic gurus who dispense the word from 1600 Pennsylvania or the big white house in Jackson – or the “Leader’s headquarters” in the magnificent Mississippi State Capitol.
Have mercy, folks. I never dreamed I’d live long enough to see a contrived, controlled political system that is moment by moment paralyzed by horse dung reasoning, in the name of either Democrat or Republican party. Jesus Christ and the 14 apostles – excuse me, there were only 12 – even the big boss from Jerusalem preached the gospel of loving God and loving neighbor as thyself. And, he was all about consensus, all about justice, mercy, grace, folks – let’s face it, he was a leader of the highest order.
So what are my currently useful generalizations and rambling all about? Comrades, it’s about the lack of solid, broad based, intellectual political leadership that plagues democracy all across these 50 states – and yes, the Executive and Congress in Washington.
I won’t get doggedly specific, but the current health crisis relating to the Covid-19 Pandemic is classic. Governmental leadership at most all levels has been reactive instead of proactive. Those closest, like municipalities, have done what was right more often than state and federal. Of course, and it figures, in our beleaguered State, our erstwhile governor even tried to prevent the municipalities and counties from developing their own local strategies for combating the pandemic-only to “come around” a week later!!
Here’s the whole point!! We still practice democracy in the good ole USA, but we do it with less forethought and actual intellectual involvement than ever before. ‘Scorched earth” and “win at all cost” politics and policies are more the art of brainwashing — of super majorities.
We, the citizens, have got to get with it, think, and clearly, premeditatedly participate in the political process from beginning until justice reigns like a fast flowing river. We’ve got to thwart the overarching influence of the almighty dollar in the election process that thwarts the delivery of essential political leadership and the “common good.” It’s honestly not that tall an order, but it’s certainly been derailed in recent decades by our lack of participation and grassroots involvement in the government we own-not the pseudo leadership that so many of our current political operatives practice.
Get your civics book out. Start over. Redesign your interest and involvement. Grab a root and growl!! Promise-we’ll see a vast difference, feel better and the general welfare of all citizens will vastly improve.
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