September 10, 2013 •
President and CEO Elizabeth Bartz offers insights from the latest edition of Compliance Now.
I think we all have an idea of what the definition of good government might look like.
- Bipartisan discussion over important current issues.
- Keeping “what is best for the country and the electorate” as the most important issue.
- Maintaining an acceptable conduct as elected public officials.
- Being receptive to business and other public opinions without being manipulated by special interest groups.
Most of you understand this definition, although I am sure many of you are wondering where these things have gone and what has made them so difficult to maintain and achieve.
Well, I think it has a lot to do with the second part of the title and that includes the words, “In This Environment.”
Just what do these words mean and how have things changed to create the environment we now live in or at least have to live within?
And, of course, the most difficult question “Will good government improve and change the environment we live in or vice versa, Will a better environment give us the opportunity to create good government”
Do I have you sufficiently confused?
The fact is no two topics are more closely related when trying to evaluate this simple statement, “Is good government possible in this environment?”
The sad state of affairs is if you asked the majority of the voting population, the first answer would be “NO.” Of course, NO would be followed by a long litany of their own personal opinions and political advice, be it left or right, which would make everything better if we just follow blindly.
They would also say, not following these simple but absolutely uncompromising ideals is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place.
Judging which of these groups—be they left, right, up, down, or in the middle—is the most responsible for the dilemma of searching for good government, is worse than flipping channels on cable news networks at 5 after 8 p.m. each weekday evening.
Almost incredibly, the art of bad politics has created such an adversarial environment; it seems to be blocking out the sunlight and preventing what this country has done so well for more than 200 years…Govern well.
We seem to be so bogged down in the processes and partisanship, we have lost track of what are the important issues of the day. Good governing—which means in the end, getting things done in a manner as outlined by our Constitution. This document has no provisions for obstructionism. If anything, it has far more implied provisions for compromise and reconciliation.
This is a bit overwhelming for me—a small business owner, in a regional city like Akron, Ohio—to address. You see, the main goal of my company, in a manner of speaking, is to assure good government has half a chance to exist. State and Federal Communications is responsible for assisting corporations and trade associations to realize what the laws say and stay compliant to the laws as they relate to their lobbying and political contributions activities.
This simple idea of operating within the framework of the law is what we excel in conveying to our clients. We make no compromises, and we expect good ethical conduct from our clients. We suggest by doing this, our clients can create a GOOD environment, which in turn will allow for the opportunity for good government to thrive and, thereby, help our clients continue to be successful businesses.
This is just our small world of specific topics—lobbying and political contributions—but it also allows us to think of how these simple principles work on a much more grand scale—such as on the national level.
It seems the environment has become polluted and is no longer conducive to allowing good government to thrive. At every turn, we hear about corruption and degradation of “the environment” at almost every level.
Think for a minute. How often do you read or hear about an elected or appointed official, tasked with the responsibility of good governing or overseeing good government at the municipal, state, or even federal level, in some type of ethical or criminal trouble?
These constant stains on our national environment leave those attempting to provide good government with an almost impossible task. Add to this situation the lack of confidence by the electorate and the constant partisan bashing of government officials in the media, and you begin to see how difficult changing this environment has become.
So, who wins? Good government or the bad environment? And, is it possible for good government to inevitably thrive again?
My answer is, YES. But, we must be diligent and use the power we have been given to fix this situation. It may be one of the most disheartening bits of information out there, but the fact that sometimes only 25 to 50 percent of eligible voters take advantage of this privilege is amazing.
We have it within our power as individuals to push things back on the path of good governing and good government. And, we will. We need to encourage everyone to use their constitutional right and step up and be heard. We need to:
- Demand politicians maintain a high ethical standard;
- Demand policies and issues are dealt with in a compromising manner so progress can be made; and
- Be assured, elected officials are more concerned with doing what is best for the people and the country and are not driven by special interest groups or mindless re-election campaigns.
And, most of all, encourage everyone to go out and VOTE. That single simple task, just a few times a year, is our best hope for assuring good government is still possible in this environment.
Elizabeth Z. Bartz
President and CEO
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.