Civic Responsibility

There are people who believe that government can make a difference, a positive difference, in people’s lives.  I’m one of those people.  And there are people who think government is the enemy and that it should be resisted at all times and thwarted at every opportunity.  It looks as if those people have at least temporarily gained the upper hand.

The Republicans held on to their majority in the Senate.  They held on to their majority in the House of Representatives.  And in January we’ll have a Republican president who will name Republicans to head departments in the Executive branch of our government.  Soon after that he’ll name a new Justice to the Supreme Court, a Justice who will fill a seat the Republican members of the Senate kept vacant for a year by refusing even to hold hearings on the nominee of his predecessor.  Then he’ll set to work filling other seats on federal courts, some of which have been empty even longer because of the refusal of Republican Senators to act on them.

It’s ironic that all three branches of the Federal government will soon be controlled by people who think government is the enemy.  I don’t think many of them have an appreciation for irony.  It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes them to figure that out.  And it’ll be interesting to see whether they can make the switch from complaining and just saying no when they’re called on to govern.  It’s easier to say “repeal and replace” than to come up with a new idea, to work out the details, to draft the legislation, to make the compromises you need to get it passed, to implement it, and to be responsible for the consequences.  Plans for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act are already underway, but the only thing they’ve told us about their replacement is that it’ll be “terrific.”  Just don’t get sick while you’re waiting.  Key appointments are being made not on the basis of new ideas but on blind opposition to old ones.  How else can you explain the choice of a Secretary of Energy who has advocated abolishing that department?  (He advocated abolishing the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce too.  He couldn’t remember the name of the third one on his list until someone reminded him later.  Soon he’ll be running it.)

Some people that think they may grow into their new responsibilities, that they might be guided by the things they learned from their parents and teachers, that they might remember the important things:  honesty, fair play, respect for others, and civic responsibility.  I wouldn’t count on any of that though, and neither should you.

You may be inclined to withdraw from the fight now.  You may be thinking there’s nothing we can do about any of this.  Don’t do it.  Stay involved.  Stay informed.  Hold them accountable.

The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee provides this column.