December 29, 2013

Letters to the editor: ‘Politics’ and ‘government’ needn’t be dirty words

Greg Kesich’s commentary “LePage should look to Mandela” (Dec. 11) was excellent. His basic point: “Good politician” is not an oxymoron, or a contradiction in terms.

I would suggest that his argument be extended to “government,” which, from my reading and listening, is suffering from a similar fate by sounding like a dirty word, something tainted, negative and a burden in our everyday lives.

Barney Frank, in a lecture at Colby College quoted in an article on these pages some time ago (“Frank says tea party dislikes government,” April 21), defined “government” as “what we call ourselves when we agree to work together.”

Politicians are the agents through whom we “work together.” But what has been demonstrated very dramatically in recent years, and throughout the entire history of the nation is that there are strong differences of opinion about what should be done together, what should be done by civic organizations and what should be left to individuals.

But even when there is agreement on what should be done together, there are often differences about how to do what we’ve agreed needs to be done.

It is in the face of this complicated state of affairs that we need good politicians who, as Mr. Kesich suggests, need to be pragmatic, professional, informed, respectful and ready to compromise. They need a moral compass and be prepared to make clear what principles guide them.

These were Nelson Mandela’s great strengths. He used all the personal and political resources available to him to help create a new nation and a government with racial, cultural, social and political inclusiveness as a basic principle of South Africa. That took political skill of a caliber we can only pray for.

Paul Wilson


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