OPINION: Hiring a Leader

Austin Belet, Opinions Editor

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Throughout this semester I have been steeped in the political chaos surrounding Brexit. I have had to pay attention to what the UK and Europe are asking for, how Prime Minister May is handling the situation, and how they got into the mess in the first place. Through all of this I have come to understand and respect the role of elected officials quite a bit more than before.

When considering the nature of an election, our thoughts as voters largely view them as an annoyance; a barrage of commercials, junk mail, and annoying phone calls that none of us signed up for. The reality of the matter is that elections are realistically the ultimate resume builder.

All an election is, is the public interviewing of people who want a job, and all of us deciding who is worthy of getting it. It is legitimately the hiring process of statespeople. Why are some people upset that voter turnout is so low? Because it doesn’t really represent the interests of the stockholders in the company, and therefore only a couple of people decided who gets to run the organization in their name rather than the whole board.

This article isn’t about the process of hiring, it’s about what to want/expect out of someone who wants to be hired.

The reason I mention Brexit at all is because it is my firm opinion that those MP’s who advocated to put Brexit up as a national referendum are cowards who do not respect the office they were elected to hold.

When someone is elected to office, they are elected so that they may most adequately represent the constituency they are elected by. They are then charged with knowing more about the laws they are supposed to vote on, craft, and pass. Once they assume office, they assume the responsibility of promoting the general welfare of the people who elected them.

At this point, I have narrowed down a few things that I really look for in a candidate: motivation, detailed knowledge, and charisma.

Motivation isn’t just the desire to do something, but in regards to running for office, it also is why you want to do it. Anyone can jump on a platform and say they want to run for something, but the message behind that is what makes a candidate stand out. If you look at the candidacy of Dr. Tracye Polson in the midterms, it was plain to see why Dr. Polson stood out in such a “bland” election season. Dr. Polson had built her campaign on the hardship she endured after having survived breast cancer. She acknowledged that while wanting to serve the people was in fact one of the reasons she wanted to serve, the core of her message had to deal with knowing the suffering that she wanted to help end.

In any interview for a respected job, you want to know the person you are hiring is very endowed with the knowledge required to do the job, or at least the capacity to learn quickly in order to successfully execute the job. One of the qualities that Council Member Tommy Hazzouri has that lends himself to be a competitive candidate in the current municipal elections, is that he was once the Mayor of Jacksonville. Voters can trust that he already has knowledge as to how to work the governing structure of our county to be able to improve it.

Finally we reach charisma. The sheer force of making people like you. One of the best examples of this in modern politics exists with former President Barack Obama. When then-Senator Obama announced back in 2008 that he was running for president, some of you may remember that he started as a laughable candidate; after all how could a random senator from Illinois win the presidency against a former First Lady and US Senator? It is because America found that he was likeable and charming. Obama had a way about him that put people at ease and made people want to believe in him. This echoed through his presidency and onto a world stage.

While all of these candidates may be from one side of the aisle, you can find examples in the other side too. Look at the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Former Defense Secretary Mattis, or the narrow re-election of Senator Ted Cruz. President Reagan had a very charismatic nature to him that made 1980’s America fall in love with him in a way that follows a cult of personality to this day. Secretary Mattis on the other hand was a subject matter expert in the way of national defense and was revered across the military. Senator Cruz has support because the state of Texas knows that his guiding principles come from his faith.

It is important that the people we elect and send to city hall, Tallahassee, or D.C. are those that we can trust to hold the office. It is even more important that we should hold these people accountable for their actions once they get there. Whether that is voting the member out of office or having them removed, once the person in office no longer represents the people they voted in and begin to shy away from the obligations, they should no longer retain that office.

Responsibility is my final qualifier. The responsibility to own your opinions when subject to criticism, to know what it is your constituency wants, and to do the work it takes to inform yourself on legislation that impacts them. Legislation isn’t always state birds and establishing a new park, sometimes the bills in front of you deal with the lives of service members across the world. The bills range from prison sentences to the economic viability of remaining in a multinational agreement. The responsibility of the office is tremendous, and it is up to the constituents to make sure that the people we elect are responsible enough to execute their office successfully.

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