12/26/08 — Ethics and honor: Elected folk should expect to be held to a higher standard

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Ethics and honor: Elected folk should expect to be held to a higher standard

There is a Christmas gift that needs to go to every man and woman who has decided that he or she will represent constituents in some form in 2009 and beyond.
Many of them probably did not find this gift under their tree -- and others would not have recognized it had it been there. For those who are already in office, it could be a refresher course -- or rehabilitation.
It is a course in ethics -- and honor.
It seems that every day for the past year, citizens around the country have been listening to stories that are nothing less than horrifying about misuses of power at every level of government.
Taken individually they are just a sad commentary on what politics has become. Taken collectively, they are an indictment of a system that was designed to provide equitable and fair representation for the people, not profit-taking by its representatives.
The new year should bring with it a new resolve for those who will determine who will represent them in local, state and national government -- expect more.
And ... throw the bums out.
There is no more room for people who decide to use their office for personal gain -- or for those who think the rules were written for someone else.
When a representative becomes too big for his or her britches and when he or she thinks he or she is entitled to special deals, special treatment and special privilege, it is time to find a new officeholder.
And this country needs to get a lot more determined to rid itself of those who do not seem to get that they serve at the will of the people.
For every story we hear about, there are probably hundreds of others that chronicle sweetheart deals, improper influence and career planning that would make many Americans rush to polls to establish term limits. There might even be more than a few familiar names on that list.
And perhaps term limits might be one of those possible controls that Americans should consider in this new year.
At the very least, it is time to take a much closer look at those who run our country and at the promises they have made and kept or not kept over the years.
And it is time to expect more from those who say they are dedicated to serving their country.
In the end, we need more people who think of the nation first, and not their own special interests. It is our job to figure out which ones are there for us and which are there to line their own pockets -- and to keep the former and to dump the latter.
This coming new year is our chance to turn over a new leaf and to demand more from the people we entrust with our votes.
And that resolution can be kept only by opening our eyes and ears -- wide -- and then doing something about what we see and hear.

Published in Editorials on December 26, 2008 2:33 PM