Back in 1994, the Republicans in Congress led a movement to implement sweeping government reforms in what was called a "Contract with America." This was a clever political ploy by the party to elect congressmen and, to their credit, they delivered on their promises. Whether you agreed with them or not is immaterial, the "contract" concept captivated the public's imagination as the politicians felt compelled to comply with it. Perhaps it is time to implement another "Contract with America," not so much to enact any particular legislation but to enforce how our politicians will act and behave while serving in office. Think about it, aside from their oath of office and the congressional rules by which they operate, there currently isn't anything committing an elected official to how he will represent his constituents. Polls tell us the American public believes government is broken and, consequently, have lost faith in their elected leaders. A formal contract would go a long way towards reestablishing trust.
If such a contract existed, what would it consist of? My first reaction is that it should include something to have the politician promise to support and defend the Constitution of the United Stated, but since this is already a part of their oath of office, it probably shouldn't be included in a new "Contract with America." Aside from this, I can think of seven articles to include in such an agreement:
That you, the elected government official, hereby promises and swears to...
1. be mindful that you serve the constituents who elected you (your employer) and, as such, you will put their best interests ahead of your own. Further, you will regularly and consistently report on your activities to them.
2. constantly seek to improve the livelihood, well-being, prosperity, and standard of living for your constituents.
3. be mindful of your fiduciary responsibilities, whereby you pledge government will live within its means, in accordance with an approved budget.
4. lead by example. This means you will not engage in illegal activities or moral turpitude. Violations of ethical standards will not be tolerated and you will be held accountable for your actions.
5. deliberate the issues of the day with honesty, candor, courtesy, and a professional attitude. You will do what is best for your constituency and not your political party.
6. not vote to place military or public personnel in harm's way without first being absolutely convinced of the necessity to do so.
7. endeavor to do what is fair and equitable for everyone.
There is nothing startling here. This is how we expect all of our elected officials to behave, and why we become disillusioned when they do not live up to these standards. Perhaps if this became an official document though, such as the type of contract employees regularly sign in business, they may be more inclined to abide by it.
Come to think of it, maybe we should include having them read the Constitution now and then. I can't imagine it would hurt anything, can you?
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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