Monday, April 1, 2013

Powerful people simply are not listening

It's a common affliction of both Republicans and Democrats -- incumbentitis.

Many politicians start out their careers in the same way: an upstart with stars in their eyes, plugged in to a grassroots movement in their community, in tune with at least a swath of the electorate, and swept into office on a wave of promise and popularity that "this person will be different."

And then they get elected, and re-elected over the years, until they become ingrained as an integral part of the "establishment," and intoxicated with their power.

Of course, in such circumstance, the people easiest to listen to are your fellow politicians, and bureaucratic sycophants who serve you, as well as powerful lobbyists and monied interests seeking your favor, and from whom you derive campaign contributions, tickets to free events, junkets around the globe, and community "attaboys" for a job well done.

And in the process, you lose touch with the very people who brought you to the dance.  And more importantly, you forget, or maybe not forget but fail to apply, the core principles and desire to "fix" things that caused you to run for office from the outset.

This is "incumbentitis," the disease that threatens politicians around the globe, and brings many to their knees or even to their political death.

Such is the case with Mayor Mark Mallory and our hopelessly out-of-touch City Council.

As a massive chorus of citizens rise up against the pernicious Parking Plot, they are not listening.  They are not hearing.  Their friends -- people who spent years and in some cases decades backing their candidacies -- have whispered in their ears and shouted from the rooftops: "not the Parking Plot."  "This is bad policy."  "It is ill-advised."  "You must deal with your fiscal problems in another way."  "My friend, take another route."

And they refuse to listen, to heed the at first quiet whispers and then the growing cacophony of voices calling for a new direction for our community.

But there is a cure for incumbentitis.  It's called an election.

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