Low Information and High Expectations: Can they fit together in government?

By Richard Rowland

The Declaration of Independence makes crystal clear that We the People form government to serve our needs. We the People also elect representatives to serve the republic. Then they supervise those same elected people. That is to say, they can fire them if they don’t serve We the People properly. Accordingly, We the People can be likened to a Great big Board of Directors, overlooking those who were elected to get the job of government done.

A Board of Directors should not ever be immersed in details. It distracts them from their work which is to focus on desired results. The CEO and staff are hired to handle details and overcome the bad ones to get results.

Rush Limbaugh talks a lot on his radio show about the “low information voter”. That self-same voter is, like Limbaugh, you and me, a member of the Board of Directors of our nation. Therefore, it seems quite rational for him or her to have low information of details while he or she pays careful attention to high expectations in results. As a matter of fact, with time and energy always limited, our rational BOD member might even be intolerant of being distracted by details. Why? To do his job well, he must evaluate results guided by high expectations. That is where he exercises his power.

Here are some examples of high expectations, which, looking at them, you might call common sense:

A) Values:

    1. Be honest
    2. Be forthright
    3. Be dependable
    4. Practice deep integrity
    5. Be approachable and thoughtful
    6. Accept responsibility for your mistakes; be accountable

B) End Results Expected:

    1. Smaller government—80% of our public says government is too big
    2. More federalism: Sending government functions down toward the people served
    3. Less government intrusion into private lives
    4. Get on track to eliminate government debt
    5. Calculate budgets that are honest—including future obligations
    6. See to it that the children of the present generations and future ones will be able to pursue the American Dream
    7. Never vote to approve a law that hurts a citizen or group in order to help another person or group
    8. Let individuals govern themselves. The more they do that, the less they want or need government

Last week, the Budget bill passed both houses. Not one member of either body read it. There was not time enough allowed to do so. All that voted for that bill violated the call for honesty and integrity as well as a host of other common sense standards. They should, every one, be voted out of office, never to return.

So, folks, low information seems OK for a voter with good values who looks for results. What is horrible among voters is low expectations and hopeless coping with details. Our founding fathers wanted not to have We the People micro-managing government. They knew that every worthy citizen was very busy running her own complicated life— full of essential details, by the way. In government, they wanted enforcement of high expectations by We the People.

The power of enforcement with purpose is still there. We just need to start exercising it. A good way to do that is to talk about it now, before the elections, to let those who will be looking for a job know that We the People are awake this time around.

Richard Rowland is the Founder of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

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