Tag Archives: common sense

Warning Shot Fired at State Educators by Mississippi Legislature

After House Bill (HB) 449 in 2015 and HB 49 in 2016 failed to become law and silence state educators, the Mississippi Legislature may have delivered a coup de gras with the recent passage of HB 1643, Section 44.  Section 44 reads . . .

“None of the funds provided herein may be expended to make payments or transfers to the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents. Furthermore, none of the funds provided herein may be expended if any local school district expends any public funds to make payments or transfers to the Association.”

Over the years, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents (MASS) has been a major education liaison between educators and the Mississippi Legislature.  After July 1, 2016, Section 44 may put an end to that relationship, but as grave as the loss of an association devoted to promoting and improving education may be, the gravest consequence of Section 44 may well be the silencing of educator voices across Mississippi.  By prohibiting payments from public funds to MASS and threatening to withhold state funds to any local district violating Section 44, the legislature fired a warning shot aimed at all state educators.  They sent a strong message that if any educator dares side or speak against them, as some superintendents did during the controversial and heated Initiative 42 campaign in the fall of 2015, there will be consequences to pay.

Bill author, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Herb Frierson, R–Poplarville, made it clear Section 44 of the bill is retaliation for what he called personal attacks against state officials by state school district superintendents during the Initiative 42 campaign.  He said, “When they attack people like that, they’re biting the hand that feeds them, and maybe the next time they need to think about that.”  However, the record supports the problem goes much deeper than Initiative 42.  Prior to the Initiative, House Education Chairman, John L. Moore introduced HB 449 in the 2015 legislative session that threatened to penalize educators $10,000 dollars for exercising their freedom of speech on school related issues.  He renewed his effort to silence educators in the 2016 legislative session when he introduced HB 49, which was basically a repeat of his failed 2015 bill.  The objective of both bills was to silence the voice of educators across the state who spoke in protest against state legislators who refused to honor the law and fully fund education.

Frierson said, “There’s very little trust between the leadership and school administrators and most of it goes back to the 42 campaign.”  He is right; little trust exists between state leadership and educators in general, and the vindictiveness of HB 1643, Section 44 will do nothing to build trust between the two factions.  The distrust between the two, which began long before Initiative 42, will only grow deeper as a result of such pettiness.  This rift began when state legislators repeatedly went back on their word to fully fund MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program), and refused to work and listen to state educators on education issues.  This divide escalated with Initiative 42 when legislators placed an alternative measure on the ballot, which confused the issue and made it difficult at best for the Initiative to pass.  Trust between the two deteriorated further when legislators misled state voters with threats of budget cuts to other agencies if the Initiative passed – cuts that nevertheless became a reality after the Initiative was defeated.

HB 1643, Section 44 was a stroke of political genius.  By taking a less direct route than Moore and embedding the retaliatory action against school superintendents in the appropriations bill, Frierson kept his intentions under the radar as a part of the greater bill.  However, the impact on educators will be everything Moore hoped for, if not more.  Section 44 is most likely a death blow to MASS, and due to fear of reprisals against them, it may likely usher the end of educators speaking out for fairness, integrity, and common sense on education issues.  As Frierson would say, “If it does, it does.”  After all, why should free speech stand in the way of the greater power of the state legislature?

It is ironic some of the exact things the Mississippi leadership detests most about the federal government are forced on Mississippi citizens by the state leadership.  They detest the federal government usurping the power of local government, yet Section 44 tells local school districts how to spend local dollars.  They openly despise Common Core Standards because they argue the federal government bullied schools into using the standards or risk losing federal funds.  Doesn’t Section 44 do the same when it threatens to withhold state funds from local school districts that fail to take part in the legislature’s vendetta against the superintendent’s association?  It appears the Mississippi Legislature may be as power hungry if not more so than the federal government they rail so vehemently against.

Isn’t it also ironic America’s most basic right, free speech, is the right many Mississippi legislators want to strip from state educators?  In the United States of America (Mississippi is a part of the United States), instead of reprisals against free speech, shouldn’t there be reprisals against those who advocate such?  However, retaliation against either side will not resolve this issue.  As Frierson said the issues boil down to trust, and at this time neither the legislature nor state educators trust the other to do their jobs effectively.

After the defeat of Initiative 42, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves spoke about pulling both sides together as a family.  That has not happened.  All anyone needs to do is examine such bills as HB 49 and Section 44 of HB 1643 to see educators are not regarded as family by the state legislature.  If they were family, legislators would be more inclined to listen to them, and not try to silence them.  However, maybe Mr. Reeves’ words were for show only, and what Frierson, Moore and many others in the legislature really want is for educators to prostrate themselves before them.  If so, who is next – small business owners?  Ministers?   Simply put, Section 44 is nothing less than heavy handed tyranny that should scare all Mississippians into waking up!

JL

©Jack Linton, June 4, 2016

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Abandoned by God or Common Sense?

The 2016 campaign for the presidency has turned this nation into a swarming hive of publicity seekers, doomsday enthusiasts, and impetuous and reckless lunatics stirring the pot of chaos.  Seldom has a day gone by without somebody new jumping on the lunacy bandwagon so shamelessly driven by both political parties.  However, the madness goes beyond politics.  As a nation, thinking and emotions have become so compromised that it is clear many Americans have lost touch with reality.  Every day, the nation is confronted by people entangled in delusional aberrations.  They inject the reality of what they see and hear with what they want to see and hear, thereby creating a sense of warped personal authenticity.

America has lost touch with common sense!  People are quick to embrace hearsay, Facebook dribble, and biased news, especially if it supports what they “want to” believe – to heck with truth and reality.  Americans have developed a passion for morphing little things into big things or nothing into something.  They love to create mountains out of molehills.  As a result, they resemble Chicken Little running around crying the world is ending, and moaning and groaning that God has abandoned America.

If God has abandoned America, which is doubtful, it is because he is embarrassed at the lack of common sense currently on display.  People point to the lack of prayer in schools, lack of attention to the Bible, and sinful lifestyles as the reasons for America’s decline when the sad truth is this country’s problems lie in the hearts of the American people.  God has not abandoned America! The people, due to their reckless disregard for the American pursuit of liberty and happiness for all people as well as their neglect of the Biblical commandment to love their neighbor, have abandoned America.  As a nation, too many Americans no longer embrace diversity as a virtue in their politics, in their society, or in their personal lives, which means they have abandoned what made America great.  As a consequence of this indifference to liberty and happiness for all and love of neighbor, the nation stands helpless in the shadows of mountains built from molehills and righteousness built from convenience.

Common sense is the mountain Americans must reclaim before the nation can regain its sanity and move forward.  Until people begin to filter life, media, and hearsay through the lens of common sense, America will continue to resemble a quagmire of lunacy.  It is time we stop building molehills into mountains, stop pandering and giving credibility to stupidity, stop assuming we are more righteous than the other person, and return to practicing common sense and treating one another with respect.  That is the only way America will regain its sanity.  Once we have a grip on common sense and can again converse respectfully as adults without shouting down those who disagree with us, we will find America is still the greatest nation on earth, and throughout the insanity, God has never been more than a prayer away.

JL

©Jack Linton      May 22, 2016

Are Syrian Refugees Our Second Chance?

People across America are scared, and rightfully so. We have always trusted our government to keep us safe from atrocities such as those brazenly embraced by Middle East radicals set on destroying the world as we know it. Unfortunately, due to our government’s limited involvement against the ISIS threat, America’s trust is wavering. American citizens, some of whom have never owned a hunting rifle much less a handgun, are arming themselves in record numbers, not because they are suddenly enamored with guns, but because they are scared for their safety and the safety of their families. They still trust in the ability of the men and women in the armed services to protect them; however, they no longer trust Congress or the President to unleash those men and women to do the job they were trained to do – protect American citizens!

A consequence of this fear is that we, a nation of refugees, are primed to turn our backs on the Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives; people searching for a haven for their families. Some call it “common sense” to shut out the Syrian refugees, and considering the senseless murders of 911 and the recent murders of defenseless innocent people in Paris, it is hard to argue against that point. Even so, in taking such a common sense stand, are we selling out what is morally right? Is such a stand what Americans do when confronted by an evil that goes against everything we value and believe, or is such a stand simply un-American? It is understandable that we must be cautious, and we must take steps to ensure the safety of American citizens, but is it morally right to turn people away who are trying to do the very thing “common sense” Americans are striving to do – protect themselves and their families?

Should the United States allow Syrian refugees to enter the country is a troubling paradox. Americans are a compassionate God fearing people who believe in God’s commandment to love our neighbors and care for our fellow man. However, our government’s inability to effectively handle the ISIS crisis has paralyzed our compassion and hardened our hearts out of fear of becoming their next victims. The terrorists have accomplished their goal of striking fear into the heart of America. As a result, we are poised to close our doors to Syrian refugees as we did in 1939 to Jewish refugees on board the SS St. Louis seeking sanctuary from the Nazi murderers.   In 1939, our fear sent nearly 1,000 men, women, and children back to Europe, where half of them died in the Jewish Holocaust that followed. Seventy-six years later, will our fear once again send the innocent back to death’s door, or will we trust in God, and accept the Syrian refugees as our second chance to do what is right?

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD. November 17, 2015

Cut to the Chase: The Initiative 42 Bottom Line

Think about this for a moment:

If I had signed a contract with you 18 years ago for your services or products for $100.00 per year, you would expect to be paid $100.00 per year for that contract. Now suppose I had only paid you $100.00 a year twice in the past 18 years. For 14 of the remaining 16 years, I decided all I was going to pay you was $40.00 each year although the contract called for $100.00 each year. As you became more and more agitated that the contract was not being honored, I finally paid you $50.00 and $60.00 respectively for the past two years. On top of that, I boasted to everyone who would listen that in the last two years I had put more money into your business than in any time in history. Never mind, I short-changed you hundreds of dollars in 16 of the past 18 years that impacted your ability to attract quality employees, service your equipment, and repair your facilities. How well would that sit with you? If you had been consistently short-changed the money you were promised, what would you do? Wouldn’t you seek relief from the courts? Isn’t it a function of the courts to resolve such contractual malpractice?

The representation above illustrates exactly the bottom line for Initiative 42! In 1997, the Mississippi Legislature made a law (a promise) to fund Mississippi public school education based on the MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) formula, but they only honored the law twice over the next 18 years. I dare say, there are few people in this state or any other state who would have exercised the patience Mississippi educators exercised during those 18 years. In the business world and as private citizens, if someone refused to honor their monetary commitment to us, we would have sought relief through the courts long ago. However, educators did not because they kept hoping and praying the state Legislature would do the right thing and honor their commitment. Of course, they never did! So, since they repeatedly failed to honor their commitment to fund education, what recourse did legislators leave citizens and educators other than to go through the initiative process and seek relief through the courts? The legislators and their supporters can cry the citizens and educators are trying to circumvent the power of the Legislature by taking the funding issue to court all they want, but the truth is the initiative process is simply taking the next logical step to resolve a problem the Legislature created.

Initiative 42 is the result of the Mississippi Legislature’s failure to do its job! If legislators had honored their commitment (the law), there would not be a need for Initiative 42. But, year after year they have refused to honor the law! Governor Bryant can claim all he wants that historic amounts of money have been placed in education the past two years, but he cannot deny state legislators have failed to honor the law and fully fund MAEP during the same two years as well as in all but two of the preceding 16 years. They simply have not! As a result, nearly 200,000 Mississippi citizens signed a petition to get Initiative 42 on the ballot in a grassroots effort to get state legislators to honor their commitment to education. Even so, citizens and educators are hoping, even when Initiative 42 passes, that the legislators will do the right thing and honor the funding law rather than go to court. With Initiative 42, legislators will have the option of doing the right thing by following the law and fully funding the MAEP formula, or they can opt to ignore the law as they have done year after year and choose to send the funding issue to court. Under Initiative 42, whether a chancery court judge hears the issue or not is completely up to the state legislators.

Remember this, if you had a contract with someone to pay you for services, supplies or maintenance you provided, you would expect to be paid for those services. If that someone consistently refused to pay, eventually you would have no other recourse but to seek relief in the courts to get your money. Why shouldn’t school kids and teachers be entitled to the same relief? Also, you should think about this. What would happen if you refused to pay your state income taxes or ignored the income tax law completely? You can bet money your state government would not hesitate to fine you and drag you into court. So, if citizens must honor the law or face being taken to court, why shouldn’t their elected officials be expected to honor the law or face going to court as well? It is time we stopped hiding our heads in the sand while the Legislature picks and chooses the laws they want to honor. It’s time to pass Initiative 42, and make the Mississippi Legislature accountable to honoring the laws they pass.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 25, 2015

The Cat in the Hat Supports Initiative 42

I do not understand.
Why they say no way.
They signed on the line;
They agreed to pay.

But state Legislators refuse
To honor their education promise.
It doesn’t make sense
When it is such a simple premise!

See, it works like this,
Politicians make law
That everyone must follow
Even politicians and in-laws.

So, why the fuss?
It’s law; honor it!
Not to, doesn’t make sense
Not one little bit!

And then
Uncurling from his mat
Stretched and stood the Cat in the Hat!

We looked!
“It’s time,” said the Cat in the Hat.
We looked!
And saw a petition
In the hand of the Cat in the Hat!
And he said to us,
“Enough is enough, it’s as simple as that!”

“I know it’s hard,
And it won’t be easy.
So, don’t be afraid,
And please don’t get queasy!”

“We’ll place a petition on the ballot,”
Said the cat.
“For education we’ll take a stand.”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“It’s the only option left to do.
Education won’t be adequately funded
Without Initiative 42.”

The teachers and children
Did not know what to say;
They’d never had a friend
To look after them that way.

But Governor Bryant said, “No! No!
Make that cat go away!
Tell that Cat in the Hat
We ain’t gonna pay!
He should not be here.
He should not be about!
He should not be here
Somebody please kick him out!”

“Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!” said the cat.
“It’s not a trick; it’s not bad,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“A little petition is all it is
With nearly 200,000 Mississippi names
Standing up for education
Tired of playing political games!”

“Throw it out!” said Tate Reeves.
“It’s not fair; not fair at all!”
“Throw it out!” cried Phillip Gunn.
“Initiative 42 will lead to our fall!”

“Have no fear!” said the cat.
“Initiative 42 rights a wrong.
Do your job, nothing to fear;
See a judge if the same old song.
Fund education as you promised,
And let that be that.
Fund education! We’ll leave you alone,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.

“Two can play that game!”
Said Reeves and Gunn.
“We’ll add confusion to the mix!
Initiative 42A will make it fun!”

“Look at this!
Look what you’ve done!” said the cat.
“The people don’t know if they’re between the A or T
Much less where they’re AT!
Should they choose 42 or 42A?
My oh my, what should they do?
You’re the Grinches who stole Christmas!
Mr. Gunn and Reeves, shame on you!

And look!
Now they’re running TV ads
That would scare even Stephen King!
Just to make Initiative 42 look bad!

Oh, no.
That is not all…
They tell us a black Democrat judge
Will cause Mississippi to fall!
He’ll spend school money as he pleases,
He’ll give it to his favorite schools!
And they tell us this
Because they think we’re all fools!

“But, have no fear,”
Said the cat.
“Initiative 42 is on the ballot,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“The ballot may look tricky,
But Mississippians are not fools;
They will see through the smoke
And vote for Initiative 42!”

The teachers and children
Did not know what to say;
They’d never had a friend
To look after them that way.

Adapted from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss by Jack Linton (October 24, 2015)

A Shovel and My Wife: Sometimes it Pays to be Lucky

It is hard to believe it has been two years since I retired after 37 years as an educator. After the initial withdrawal questions that I am sure most retirees experience such as what was I thinking to quit a perfectly good job; what will they do without me; what will I do without the daily interactions with people on the job; how will we pay the bills; and what will I do with all this free time; I finally came to grips with being a “has been” and moved on to being a “whatever I what to be.” It took some time, but I came to realize there is more to life than a “perfectly good job” that requires 12 to 14 hour work days; I learned to accept they, the job, will get along just fine if not better without me; I still miss the job specific interactive discussions that led to disagreements as well as confirmations, and kept me on my toes as a professional educator, but I have not had a single parent or teacher complaint in two years and that makes retirement heaven in of itself; as for “paying the bills,” my wife’s and my careers have provided us with a comfortable retirement with enough to pay the bills, and to occasionally travel and spoil the grandkids, so what more could we ask for or need; and when it comes to “what to do with my time,” the answer is very simple – WHATEVER I WANT TO DO! I sleep late almost every day; I play my guitar and sing along with cats screeching and dogs howling in agony; I write songs so I don’t make a mess of other people’s work; and I write stories, poems, and articles that hopefully are readable attempts at making people smile and think. I have no delusions of literary greatness, so I write what I have always wanted to say with little regard for political correctness, who it offends, or what people might think of me. But, most of all, retirement has given me the freedom to simply lie in my hammock all day with a cold drink in my hand and a smile on my face and be absolutely “sorry” if I so choose.

It goes without saying, “I am lucky,” but I have worked hard my entire life to be “lucky.” However, hard work alone will not make a person happy (I am), wealthy (I am not), comfortable (I am) or even lucky (I most definitely am); the right people, the right situations, and the right opportunities are also factors that determine a person’s worth as well as a person’s success. I have been blessed to have had such people, situations, and opportunities in my life. Looking back over my career, the biggest reasons for any success I had were God, the people I worked with, my father, a shovel and my wife.

I strongly believe the reason I survived as an educator as long as I did was due in no small part to the patience and sense of humor of God and the people I worked with over the years. I am sure I gave both God and the people who supported me, as well as those rearguard mumbling geniuses who were never pleased with anything I did, a good chuckle on more than one occasion. Although I did not always make everyone happy, it was not for lack of trying. I have always prided myself on trying to do the right thing, but doing the right thing as you see it does not always make you the most popular or liked person around. Leadership does not come naturally for most people, and I was certainly no different; I made good decisions and I made some “bone head” decisions, but as a leader I made the final decisions. I always felt the buck stopped with me, so ultimately all decisions rested on my shoulders even when that sometimes meant standing alone. It was during those “stand alone” times that the humor and patience of God and the people who supported me meant the most. They stood by me while I learned – often the hard way – and they provided the wisdom to help me learn to laugh at myself and understand no matter what decision I made, in the end, it all turned out as God planned it.

However, when it came to my father’s contribution to my success, patience and humor were in short supply. He had a sense of humor and could be patient at times, but those were traits he rarely shared with me. Nevertheless, the straight forward work ethic he instilled in me was a major cornerstone of my career. Although I hold three college degrees, including a PhD, I came from a background where graduating high school and getting a job were the expectations. College was not financially a practical option. A man in my family was expected to graduate high school, get a job that paid a decent wage, and stay with that job until retirement or death to ensure a livelihood for his family. Missing work other than for severe personal illness or emergency family illness was not a consideration. Growing up, I was taught if you agreed to take a man’s money for a job, you were to give the man an honest day’s work for his money, and I was taught the time for quibbling over wages was before you agreed to take the job not once you were on the job. These were the expectations handed down by my grandfather who labored for Hercules, Inc. in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for 40 years and by my father who labored there for 38 years. Both men rarely missed a day of work, and because of their influence I am proud to say I missed less than 10 days of work in my 37 years as an educator. The work ethic I was taught growing up helped me as much as anything to have a successful career. I can still hear my father say, “Boy, you will sometimes meet a man who is smarter or more talented than you, but you should never meet a man who can outwork you.” He said the only man he feared was a smart man with a work ethic, and if such a man existed and had common sense to boot, you might as well say, “Yes sir, boss,” and move out of his way. According to my father, knowledge, hard work and common sense were all a man needed to climb a mountain. Looking back on my career, I would have to agree.

The fourth factor that influenced my career was a shovel. In fact, a shovel was the second biggest motivation I had for not following in my grandfather’s and father’s footsteps and going to work for Hercules after I finished high school. Actually, that is exactly what happened; I graduated high school in May 1971 and started to work at Hercules in June 1971. I couldn’t have been happier! I had worked a couple of part time jobs while in high school for about $1.35 per hour, so when Hercules offered me $2.50 per hour for a 40 hour week, I thought I had it made! Making a $100.00 weekly wage was more money than I had ever seen or dreamed of in my life. I would have probably retired from Hercules if not for a girlfriend who was a lot smarter and wiser than I was and a shovel stuck fast in Mississippi red clay.

My first week at Hercules, I spent unloading and stacking 55 gallon steel barrels (Thank God they were empty!). I am not sure how much each of those barrels weighed, but I can tell you rolling those barrels into place and stacking them in rolls a hundred feet or more long and five to six barrels high whipped a skinny 140 pound 17 year old’s butt! I have never been as tired in my life as I was at the end of a day stacking those 55 gallon steel drums. However, that $100 dollar paycheck dangling in front of my sweat blurred eyes kept me motivated. When at 7:00 a.m. Monday of the second week they handed me a shovel and told me and one other rookie to dig a ditch two feet wide by three feet deep around a group of storage tanks near the front of the plant, my motivation began to waver. It took us three days to dig that ditch, and then on the fourth day, the foreman told us to cover the ditch over; there had been a change of plans. Week three, the two of us were taken to the middle of the plant and assigned to dig a three foot wide by four foot deep ditch. We spent a week under the sweltering Mississippi sun with shovels and picks digging that ditch, or I should say, I spent a week digging that ditch since my partner spent the majority of his time leaning on his shovel, singing hymns and praying for deliverance from the trench he had appropriately named “Hell’s Door.” God must have heard his prayers because just before noon Friday of that week my shovel became wedged in a crack in the hardest, driest red clay I had ever seen in my life. I could not force the shovel deeper into the crack nor could I pull it out of the crack, so I grabbed the pick and commenced to hammer on the shovel head and claw at the dry clay to try to free it. About that time, the foreman over the job and an assistant stopped to check our progress. He said something about the heat and then he started choking, sputtering, and pointing to where my shovel was wedged in the clay. His assistant’s face went pale. He yelled something at me that I could not understand and jumped into the hole, grabbed me and literally lifted and threw me out of the ditch. After the two men caught their breath, they angrily scolded the two wide eyed, sweat drenched kids in front of them. It turned out the red clay my shovel was wedged in was not red clay at all. It was red concrete marking a high voltage electrical line just inches below the tip of my shovel. One more good whack with the pick against the shovel, and I most likely would not be here today. My partner quit that afternoon. I made it through the rest of the summer, but shortly after the red clay incident, I followed my girlfriend’s advice and enrolled in college for the fall. Although at the time I had no idea what it might be, I decided there were better ways to make a living. The Mississippi sun and that shovel wedged in red concrete were all the motivation I needed to look for something new.

Everything I have mentioned played a significant part in my career success. However, the biggest reason for any success I have had in my career or life came from the single most important person in my life – my high school sweetheart, my girlfriend, my wife. Without her, I would never have finished my undergraduate degree much less my doctoral degree. Without her belief in me, I would not have survived when so many others doubted me. She gave me the courage and motivation to keep moving forward when it would have been so easy for me to say, “To hell with the world; I quit!” She stood by me when I am sure it would have been easier for her to say, “To hell with you; I quit!” Without her, I would not have had a career, nor would I have had a life of any quality or worth. Without her, I wouldn’t have the three greatest kids a man could have. In fact, without her, I would probably be an old single guy frequenting church socials and local bars looking for love with blue haired ladies wearing pink skirts too short to hide cellulite and varicose veins. Thank the good Lord, my wife saved me from such a life. She helped me grow up, clean up, and rise up to meet life’s many challenges. Anyone who knows me and has also met her will attest to the fact that she is certainly more beautiful, intelligent, and unselfish than I deserve. A buddy once said after meeting her, “Wow! How did you manage that? You are so out of your league.” As I explained to him, it’s called luck, and sometimes it is better to be lucky than good looking, smart, wealthy, or charismatic. I may fall short in all those, but I am LUCKY, and luck has served me well.

JL

©Jack Linton, July 14, 2015

You might need to go back to school if . . . .

Part III: Politics

Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.  Sloan Wilson

Have you ever wondered why so many politicians claim to represent the people who elected them, but when they get to Jackson or Washington they become independent contractors representing special interest groups and personal agendas rather than the people? Listen to them speak; all too often they speak of the people, but not for the people. Although they may be elected under the umbrella of a certain party and therefore owe a certain allegiance to that party, they tend to forget their first responsibility is to the people and not the party. They are the elected voice of the people and not the elected voice of the party, or at least that is how it is supposed to work.

Such contradictions of purpose are common in arenas such as politics where there is little accountability. During elections, politicians know they can make any promise they need to entice people to vote for them. They know accountability comes once every two, four, or six years according to their office term limits, and more important, they know voters have notoriously short memories. Therefore, once elected, they can do practically whatever they want until their final year or maybe eighteen months in office when they once again hit the streets and airwaves campaigning, political hobnobbing, fabricating new promises, and padding their accomplishments to fit the ear of the voter. Face it, most voters are basically lazy; they rarely take a deep look into the past records of candidates they vote for in elections – locally or nationally. They simply vote for the party; they follow the lead of friends and relatives; they cast their vote based on image; or they decide who to vote for when they get to the polls and see the ballot for the first time, which means they often favor the incumbent.

In America, our leadership problems are as much the result of the laissez-faire attitude of the public as it is who the public elects. We vote out of allegiance to a party, we vote how someone tells us to vote, or we don’t vote at all. In today’s world, people even tend to shy away from voting their conscious for fear of being politically incorrect or out of sync with family and friends. The days of deep independent, intelligent thinkers have been replaced by strict party allegiances, apathy, and fanatical bigotry sometimes thinly veiled by the auspices of patriotism and religion. When it comes to putting the right people in leadership positions, we are our own worst enemy. We are guilty of paying an unbelievable amount of lip service to the political process, but when it comes to voting and accountability, we display an incredible lack of interest. We talk a good game, but talk is about all we do when it comes to politics. So, maybe, its time the voting public went back to school and learned about their responsibilities as a citizen . . . .

You might need to go back to school if . . . .

  1. You believe the Tea Party is the party of the people;
  2. You believe Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Tea Leoni’s character on “Madam Secretary” have more than hair color in common;
  3. You believe the Mississippi Republican party supports public education;
  4. You believe either party – Democrats or Republicans – holds all the right answers;
  5. You believe the nationwide GOP push to privatize public education is for the good of children and not a ploy to line the pockets of the private sector eager to get its hands on education dollars;
  6. You believe Mississippi does not have the $1.3 billion it has shorted education over the past few years, or you believe the $1.3 billion Nissan received from Mississippi during the same period came from the tooth fairy or Santa Claus;
  7. You believe like 4% of the American public that “lizard people” control our society through big business and politics;
  8. You need or allow a political party to do your thinking for you;
  9. You can identify the Three Stooges but not the three branches of government; and
  10. You believe a “merge right” highway sign is an invitation to a Ted Cruz political rally.

Although it is easy to believe politicians are the blame for so many of our problems, it is not as easy to look in the mirror and see the real problem. If a politician or political system becomes unaccountable to the people, there is no one to blame but the people. When citizens fail to understand this simple truth, then maybe it’s time they went back to school and revisited Political Science 101 and History 101.

JL

©Jack Linton, May 23, 2015