Earlier this year, the attentive listener may have overheard the following emanating from their local politician: “I sure hope I don’t have an opponent this year. It would be nice to have a free pass this time.”
Many incumbent politicians hate election year. They fear that at any moment an aggressive challenger will emerge, attract enough votes to win their office, and send them back to the real world.
When I hear a politician wish for an easy victory without an opponent, I start to suspect that this is the very person who needs some competition.
This politician has likely forgotten that holding office is a temporary time of service, not a lifelong entitlement. He thinks he has a right to the job and doesn’t want the healthy scrutiny of the electoral process.
Imagine the private sector employee who never had to worry about his boss showing up and grading his performance. Similarly, without a contested election, the boss (AKA the taxpayer) never has the opportunity to grade the employee/politician. Just as the hard working employee doesn’t fear his boss’ arrival, so should the conscientious elected official welcome the results of the ballot box.
Politicians become more responsible to the electorate when they face competition in every election cycle. Those who routinely get a free pass are significantly more susceptible to representing government bureaucracy rather than the values of the electorate.
I think all politicians need a ballot referendum at least once every two years. It’s never good when the electorate allows them a free pass.
The debilitating effects of prolonged exposure to power dramatically changes many incumbents, and these conversion moments are our best tool for keeping them accountable.
But, for the incumbent to have a conversion experience, he first must have a challenger.
As a taxpayer I am especially appreciative of those courageous individuals who step up and challenge entrenched incumbents even though the challengers face long odds of winning. It’s not easy to run for office while facing the near certainty of defeat.
This year, as in most, there were few challengers who defeated incumbent officials; however, I don’t think they should define their success by the outcome at the polls.
Even though most were not successful on election day, these challengers were successful because they performed a valued service on behalf of the taxpayers.
They held the incumbents to account and no doubt put some of them through an election year conversion experience.
In so doing they provided a valuable service to the taxpayers and it is appreciated.
Thank you for reading this email. Your interest is much appreciated.