October 2011

Wanted: Good Leaders

“In a representative democracy, people get the government they deserve,” goes the old saw.

One obvious interpretation of this is that if people are willing to spend time and energy participating in the selection process for leaders, or even decide to run for an office themselves, the results will be a positive reflection of the will of the majority, and those chosen will make the society run smoothly and efficiently.

Conversely, if the majority of citizens are “too busy” or find political issues “too boring” to become involved, their leaders will be selected by a clique of good old boys (and girls) with vested interests in making things operate to their advantage.

This is true at all levels of government, the most obvious being the offensive charades that are regularly performed in Washington, D.C., where each new administration and each new Congress comes into office declaring that it’s no longer going to be business as usual. (Then a few years down the road, it slowly dawns on us increasingly embittered and cynical “average” citizens that the new bosses greatly resemble the old bosses, and we’re still getting screwed every time we bend over.)

But as master politician Tip O’Neill pointed out, all politics are local, meaning that the issues most important to voters are those that affect them personally.

And locally is where each of our votes can have by far the most influence.

Next year, two of our three county commissioners will be replaced, regardless of whether the majority of county residents believe they’ve done a satisfactory job. Because of term limits, new trainees must be selected at least every eight years, one of the stupidest ideas to ever become state law, but never mind.

So far only one person has officially announced his intention to seek one of those vacancies. Bud Garner, a member of right-wing Glenn Beck’s 9-12 group and a Tea Party leader, recently declared his candidacy for commissioner in the Cortez district, with the caveat that if elected his top priority would be to somehow fight for our liberty.

While Garner does have the virtue of offering something different, it’s difficult for someone so anti-government to make a case that he would be an effective part of government, and such folks generally function best as gadflies and watchdogs.

We hear rumors that Pat DeGagne Rule, wife of current commissioner Larrie Rule and chair of the county Republican machine, is considering running in the Cortez district, and that former Cortez Mayor Orly Lucero also may make a bid. So far we’ve heard nothing about the Mancos district. That’s all well and good, of course, but it does sound an awful lot like more of the same.

So we would strongly encourage other folks who may have never had strong political ambitions, or have been too involved in their personal lives and careers, to think about throwing their hats into the ring, and giving us voters a real choice. Maybe a truly independent thinker who would have no party line to follow like some herd animal, or (Heaven forbid) a Green Party candidate who would advocate for a sensible and sustainable future.

And for those of us who aren’t candidates, we need to be informed and responsible voters. (A good way to start, at least for Cortez citizens, would be to attend a forum on school issues Monday, Oct. 10, at 6:30 p.m., in City Hall.)

Don’t put your heads in the sand, don’t say it’s too complicated — become a leader or at least help choose some good ones.