Many of us are pulled into many different directions as we get through every-day life. There are the obligations of work that consume lots of our time; there are the duties that come with keeping the family and the kids fed, clothed, educated and happy, and then, maybe, we still have time for a hobby or a ‘happy place’ to go to in order to recharge.
Where in all this do we find time and desire to get educated on politics and keep an eye on local, state and federal elected officials?
Well, in this day and age, we need to make that time. A wise man once said that the public gets the leaders it deserves. This goes for all levels of government, from local to national.
It was heartening to see the outpouring of comments, phone calls and involvement coming from Alaskans who lobbied their Senators to not confirm billionaire and outspoken school-voucher proponent Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education. To her credit, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski listened to Alaskans, she used common sense and her conscience to guide her in making the decision to break rank with her fellow Republicans and to vote against DeVos. The other Senator, Dan Sullivan, didn’t. Sullivan opted to ignore Alaskan voices, for what dubious reasons, we don’t know. A press release said he was satisfied after a meeting with her and that he “ received a number of commitments from her about education in Alaska as well as her full commitment to enforce the Every Student Succeeds Act.”
On Tuesday, in a 50-50 vote, Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to confirm yet another billionaire and special interest proponent to President Donald Trump’s cabinet.
On the state level, Alaska legislators are discussing how to balance a budget that is more than $3 billion in the hole and on the local level parents are wide-eyed as they are asked to participate in discussions on how to balance a $800,000 budget shortfall for the Nome Public Schools District.
Solutions to all these challenges to our satisfaction can only be found by participating in the process. Read a newspaper. Share an idea. Go to a council meeting or school board meeting. If we all do just a small part, we’ll like the outcome so much better because we can say that we claimed our rightful seat at the table and that at least we offered our 2 cents and participated. —D.H.—