A few words on public service and this U.S. presidential election

Barack Obama and the president of the National Association of Police
President Barack Obama and Mick McHale, President of the National Association of Police Organizations. This photo was taken after activists, civil rights workers, members of religious organizations, members of law enforcement agencies and elected leaders all met together to discuss how to build community trust. Because that can only happen when all those people and all the rest of us WORK TOGETHER. The photo was taken in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, July 13, 2016. The two people hugging in the background are Black Lives Matter activist Mica Grimm and Col. Michael D. Edmonson, Superintendent of Police, Louisiana State Police. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza, used here because White House photos are in the public domain.)

Public service is hard work, even at the local level. People disagree with everything you do. It’s always either too much or too little or not right in some way. My parents have been public servants pretty much all their lives, my dad serving his country as a Marine in Vietnam and then serving his community and his state as a city and borough manager, and my mom serving her community as a teacher, administrator, principal, and superintendent. They both have experienced being yelled at, blocked, criticized, endlessly by people who disagreed with them about one thing or another. For that matter, they both have experienced–at the LOCAL level of politics (and yes, there is a lot of politics to public service even when you are not in an elected position)–having someone head down to their workplaces with a gun. They both have also experienced being thanked for all their hard work. But the haters are always louder than the thankers, aren’t they? Even though there are a lot more people out there who are grateful than there are people who choose to never see the good you’re doing and who only see the tiny part of it that they happen to disagree with.

My grandmother (a Republican, BTW) also faced constant criticism while serving at the local level as a member of her school board. I remember her fielding phone calls from reporters who wanted to know what she thought about her critics. I don’t remember what the issue was exactly, but I do remember that she was, as usual, standing up for teachers. She told the reporters that what her critics had to say was “hogwash.” The fact is, it’s always easier to be the one doing the criticizing than it is to be the one who’s doing the work to make things better.
I’m telling you these stories because this is why I understand that this is the case at the national level too. Hillary has been in politics for what–40 years? She has done SO much. I can only think of a handful of things that people who oppose her keep bringing up. A handful of mistakes/controversies in a lifetime of public service. Think about that. Yes, of course people focus on the things they don’t like–because they simply benefit from the many good things Hillary has done (like helping to make it possible for disabled children to go to school) without even noticing that she was one of the people who worked to make those things possible. The good things that public servants do–and yes, politicians are public servants, and they do work hard, on BOTH sides of the aisle–are usually not noticed. Only the bad stuff gets remembered. And there’s reason for that because we remember the bad stuff in order to fix it. But when it’s time to choose someone to take the highest office in the land, it’s worth looking back on a lifelong career to see what else was going on, and to choose someone with experience, judgement, and a history–as the President rightly said tonight–of always trying her best to do whatever will most help children and families. To choose someone who recognizes that yes, we have to work together to make good things happen, and that that doesn’t happen in one day of elected office, but that we have to roll up our sleeves and WORK and COMPROMISE.
Take a look at the photo that I placed at the top of this blog post. This photo shows people from many walks of life working together to try to solve a problem that is on so many of our minds: finding a way to make peace between police and the communities that they serve. That’s not going to happen by imposing more law and order. Most people already respect the law. (If they didn’t, we would not have a civil society, period.) This type of peace, this type of trust, can only happen when people on both sides of this issue WORK TOGETHER, not just so they can see each other as human (I think they’re smart enough to already know that!), but so that they can make the connections with each other that they need to make to get real work done and so that they can hear perspectives other than the ones they normally hear every day, because that’s how you learn the stuff you need to know to make real changes. These people took time out of their normal schedules to meet with each other and get started on this WORK.
I get that Trump puts in long hours and knows the meaning of work. But what I don’t see from him for one single second is the ability to compromise, the ability to work WITH the very people who criticize him. Because that is what you have to do after the election is over. That’s how the work of the country gets done. And that’s also why good statesmen and stateswomen get criticized so endlessly–because when they compromise with their opponents, their supporters accuse them of caving in. But that’s how it works, it’s what has to be done, because we have a democracy, not a dictatorship.
And that’s why I stand with her. Hillary.
I know this is a long rant and isn’t even tarot-related, but this is an issue that matters because we have to live on this planet for a long time, peacefully I hope!, even with people who vehemently disagree with us.

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