Everyone should expect great things of themselves. There can be no excuses for setting low personal standards, or championing mediocrity as the equivalent of one’s full potential.
However, we must be careful not to translate these principles into what we expect from other people. Should one choose to do this, then disappointment is inevitable, especially when politics enters the picture. While it is pivotal to demand honesty and integrity from both our current and prospective public officeholders, we should never, for any reason or under any circumstances, pin our hopes and aspirations on a single person. When this comes to pass, one of the worst elements imaginable in the political arena develops; a cult of personality.
This has been exemplified with an increasing frequency since the latter half of the 2000s, though it has been happening in our country from time to time since her establishment. Notable examples include, but are most certainly not limited to, U.S. Representative Ron Paul — a man who has valid conservative ideas for economic growth, but reveals himself to be a hypocrite as one of the foremost offenders of pork barrel spending in the House, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin — a firebrand champion of traditional values while having a family which, in public form, no less, falls far short of these, and President Barack Obama — a man who inspired untold millions to believe that they could truly bring about “change” by voting for him, while eventually giving them more of the same. The list goes on and on, but, quite frankly, it becomes depressing, and who needs to dwell on things of that quality?
The point remains that we must hold rational expectations of our politicians. It is undeniable that one getting into public office for the right reasons can do a tremendous amount of good, but he or she cannot be expected to foot the entire bill. An active, engaged electorate must not only take the holders of their trust to task, but bring about the change they seek as well. Some of the most effective, influential legislation I have ever seen came not from senators, congresspersons, or councilmembers, but ordinary citizens who decided to gather enough signatures to place a proposition on the ballot for popular vote. This is the type of rationalism in politics that we so desperately need now; the initiative to bring our own mental blueprints to life, as opposed to sitting back and allowing a claque of politicians to do the heavy lifting, which will, in all likelihood, never get done.
The United States was founded as a nation by and for individualists. Therefore, it is only natural that we, as citizens, believe in ourselves before we do our supposed representatives in government. While I strongly believe that we should invest confidence in them, this must be earned — not regarded as an entitlement.
It is all too often that we do just the opposite, and then wonder why the code of ethics in politics is so abysmal.