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Ron Jackson: Those who serve deserve respect

January 6, 2019

The 116th Congress has been seated. It is the most diverse of any Congress before because of the physical attributes of many first-time-elected representatives.

There are more women in Congress than ever before.

There are more military veterans in Congress than ever before.

There are firsts from several states based on ethnicity and sexual orientation. All of which elicits a big so what.

Not once has this elected body been referred to as the first Congress with so many “good” people elected to serve. That would be historic. That is a line of thought that bears some merit.

The problem with government at any level is that good people don’t seek office. Of course, that might be an unfair characterization to some of those who do choose to serve.

However, there is not one person who participates in the voting process who cannot think of a better person to serve than anyone currently in office.

We all know at least one person who we think would make an ideal representative. I know several.

Regardless of his or her skill set, it is their personal attributes or moral character in which we separate them from any officeholder current or past. Yet, they always decline. Most times, citing the personal costs they would have to endure to serve the public. And, that is where understanding comes in.

Certainly, there are good people who run for office and serve well. There are good people who have sacrificed a lot for the chance to affect the betterment of many. To those, we should be thankful or at least respectful.

Of all the costs one might have to bear, including financial, time, personal and family when seeking or holding public office, the biggest is the”idiot” cost. That is the cost candidates and winners must endure when dealing with a public that deems it a right to personally attack without merit.

Some citizens overly exercise their right of expression when it comes to those who hold public office. It is those same citizens who expect those defamed representatives to bite their tongues and turn the proverbial other cheek.

Untruths and bizarre accusations must be readily brushed aside. Too much effort might be required to combat outright ridiculous accusations that cross the line from public servant to private person. That is an expectation most good people are not willing to meet.

The idiot costs are incalculable — especially since most idiots use the security of social media to launch their attacks. Those personal attacks might be fueled by the silence we expect the officeholder to render. But, that is not fair. There only is so much a man or woman can personally accept before they offer a defense.

Silence is not always the answer.

Long before every public servant accepted that responsibility, he or she was a human and a citizen. That does not cease upon election.

The refusal or inability to become a public target of needless, disrespectful characterization is why many good people do not run for office. Much respect is due to those who put themselves in ridicule’s way to serve the public. Now, those officials who invite such confrontation deserve what they get. But, they are not in the majority.

When I cast my vote, I don’t care what the candidate’s DNA results are.

I don’t care who they love.

I vote hoping they will meet a reasonable expectation to serve honorably and in the best interest of the majority even when I might disagree.

We have a new Congress and a new state Legislature. Only time will tell if it is better than the old.

In the meantime, I have a few good people to prod to run for office.

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