The common definition of a New Year’s Resolution, or so we’re told, is a promise where person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.
Using some of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions, we thought we would apply them to the many levels of our dysfunctional levels of our government. Here they are:
1. Get in shape -- Our state leaders could stand to “Shape Up Or Ship Out” by stopping the partisan political games. That goes for our governor, who by simply pointing out the Republicans are playing political games is doing the same.
Or we could point to the federal system, where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has purposely held up the impeachment articles to try to sweeten the trial in the U.S. Senate after those in the House failed to make the case against President Trump.
Of course, this would also apply to President Trump, who could resolve to limit the number of exasperating tweets each week to fewer than a half dozen.
2. Eat less -- This would apply broadly to all levels of our government. All bureaucrats should do what the private sector has done for years now: before hiring, ask if there are others in the organization that can do the job that’s being hired for.
Instead of spending more money in government, our leaders at all levels of government should be asking how it can run more efficiently and effectively to carry out service to the people.
3. Communicate better. This could apply to both the state and national levels of government, where instead of simply picking up the phone or meeting to talk to each other face to face, our elected leaders will tweet at each other or call a press conference to express disgust or “call for” an action to be taken by the other side of the aisle.
This could even result in tabletop exercises where leaders get together and brainstorm lists of ideas. Areas of common agreement could be compiled into an agenda of common action.
4. Meet new people. Many of our elected officials could start by sitting at the counter during property tax payment season, when taxpayers express their opinions about the recent tax increases.
Or they could walk the neighborhoods outside of election season and ask people what they think of different issues facing the level of government they represent.
It’s not easy being an elected official, but being an effective one means going to where people are located and listening before taking action.
5. Stop procrastinating. The most effective way to adopt a resolution -- or in the case of our elected officials, five of them -- is to put them into action immediately by doing the people’s business.
This means taking action on legislation, and not delaying it (attention Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell). Making your schedule public to those who want to meet with you and letting them know you are available to them (are you reading this Governor Evers and Robin Vos) might be the best first step.
With the new year comes a way to change old habits in the form of resolutions.
We can only hope those who are elected to serve in the government conceived to be open and honest and responsive to the people will resolve to keep those traits in mind -- for the year 2020 and beyond.