Election reflections of a MPA student

election-puzzleI have to admit that growing up in Kansas I was never really interested in government or politics. Political jargon and discourse were incomprehensible and bewildering. Candidates spoke in vague generalities or made emotional appeals that simply did not register on my attention/interest radar. But through the years (though it’s only my fourth time being old enough to vote in a presidential election), and now as an MPA student, the puzzle started to piece together. This particular election year coincided with the awakening of the policy analyst in me as I was enrolled in Public Policy and Administration. We discussed topics related to policy development/implementation/frameworks, agenda settings, forming coalitions, and knowing your stakeholders. We also discussed characteristics of being a great leader in the public service arena. Obviously, there is no leadership position and responsibility loftier than the POTUS.

So, as I began habitually to watch broadcast news and other media reports, the significance and consequences of foreign and domestic policies became dramatically apparent. Every aspect of our lives is steeped in policies and their effects. We depend upon government to operate efficiently for our safety, protection, health, livelihood, and progress. It is the duty of government to create/revise policies that effectively address broad citizen concerns and needs. During any election cycle, and pointedly in the recent presidential election, we are boldly solicited, “Vote for me because I have the answers” and “If you elect me, I will fix everything.” Of course, in our representative democracy, no one person assumes praise or blame for the course of our nation. What has become most annoying, however, has been the hardened stance of party “leaders” that has produced the “brinkmanship” we suffer.  Who is willing to compromise/negotiate for the greater good?  I WANT to believe that elected officials are working for the wellbeing of our country and not for their own narrow/rigid/personal policy agendas. Whose foundation for arguments/position consists of cold facts, credible evidence, and consensus opinion?

by Kristin Kelly