Leadership, Change and Respect for Our Foundational Law

The recent election cycle was painful. Regardless of your viewpoints, it seems our civil liberties were nearly ravaged. Many opinion leaders are calling for healing and more tolerance. Lord knows, we experienced a wicked year of community violence and upheaval that ended with a federal campaign about a war of the words.

Throughout the year we have heard about racism, sexism, homophobia, immigration criminals, class warfare, emails, pails of vitriol and you name it. We heard the unthinkable. During state and local elections, we heard about drug prices and drug dangers, taxes, unjust education, unjust convictions, initiatives by the people and special interests, stadiums, plastic bags and homelessness. Our mailboxes were packed with campaign mailers costing into the billions of dollars that likely could have addressed much of our poverty.

Now more than ever, it is time for civil servants to exercise the “civil” in our title. Look beyond recent events and prepare for a change in government with the new administration. Thank goodness law and policy guides our institutional tradition in transitioning leadership. If you are a federal employee, be prepared to say goodbye to presidential appointees and to have new leaders. Many state and local government employees will experience these federal changes too. Many also will experience change based on state and local elections. Be aware and thankful that our elections do not result in you being run out-of-town or jailed, as seen in Turkey and other nations undergoing leadership change.

One point many candidates made clear is that we live in an economically divided nation. Many people have not recovered from the Great Recession. Many are angry at being ignored. I saw similar personal hardship when entire industries were outlawed after the environmental laws of the 1970s, leaving families poor, homeless and broken. Sure, mining and timber harvesting are disruptive. But so are the laws that created wastelands of human misery after those industries were downsized. No amount of government help can replace the pride of earning a living, raising a family, and having pride in your community. Don’t forget that one person’s liberty may be another person’s toil.

Here are some points to help with governmentwide changes after the transition:

  • Forgive election warring. Weigh hyperbole versus the fact.
  • Recognize new policies and the changes necessary for program implementation.
  • Be ready for private sector ideas and possible innovations. We can always improve service.
  • Be thankful for our republic, however imperfect.

Win or lose, our electoral system and governments remain intact. I have witnessed many presidential elections since 1960, and there was outcry then (as now) about the apparent inequities of the Electoral College and the popular vote. All political parties were aware of the intricacies in the presidential election. Nobody claimed perfection before we began, and everybody was aware of the underclasses of Americans who struggle to even vote.

We have governments and we have clients in need of the public service staffed by civil servants. Let us respect the results of all our elections and, like many people afraid of change eight years ago, be tolerant of legal changes, even if our candidate or issue lost in a recent election. Four years is not too far away and both sides know it.

Finally, this nation was born in the cloud of vicious conflicts over taxes, religious freedoms, and protection from an overreaching federal government.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

We still do.


Submitted by Geoff McLennan

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