April 22nd, 2024

Politicians have a tough and thankless job

By Lethbridge Herald on June 11, 2022.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

Politicians can’t win. No matter which party they belong to or what they try to achieve while in office they will always face criticism from the electorate and those who couldn’t be bothered to vote.

As we see in our opinion pages, some people don’t like Shannon Phillips, others find fault with Nathan Neudorf. Some take umbrage to the words of Rachael Thomas while others can’t stand Justin Trudeau.

Civic politicians face the same criticism – put in a name and there will be an opinion, good or bad but seldom indifferent because politics is one realm where it seems everyone has a strong opinion.

Some voters blame the UCP for every ill befalling Alberta during their term in office; others blamed the NDP for every problem when they were in power. But through the criticism – much of it outright nasty – the people who dedicate their lives to serving the public keep their heads held high and do what they were elected to do – represent their ridings to the best of their abilities.

The same goes for civic politicians who during election campaigns hear plenty from voters about every issue and listen to more of it when they’re elected. 

And as politicians know, fickle supporters can quickly turn on them because they’re only as popular as their last vote on any issue.

Some among us will complain about elected officials but they won’t take the minimal time and effort to cast a ballot; these people who disenfranchise themselves by not voting do not have the right to complain.

It takes a lot of courage and a thick skin to run for office. By doing so, candidates put  their whole lives up for intense public scrutiny. In this era of social media, where nothing is ever forgotten, the pressure on people running for office is even more intense. 

Will one bad joke made 20 years ago come back to haunt them? Or something said on a fishing trip to a pal who years later gets angry and decides to betray a friend after a disagreement? Will the meaning of a tweet be misinterpreted? Will one be momentarily posted in anger and go viral in the second it takes for someone to see it and take a screenshot?

Politicians walk a tightrope every single day of their careers and that rope gets narrower after elections because public scrutiny only intensifies.

Running for office isn’t a job for the faint of heart and anyone who has earned the trust of people in their riding or in their community deserves a lot of respect just for making the commitment to serve the public.

It’s not an easy job and it’s not for everyone. And while the rest of us can for the most part hide from public view, polticians can’t. They are public figures and they are never entirely able to live private lives unless hunkered down in their own homes. With election unfairly comes loss of privacy and the obligation to endure insult no matter how foul.

They can’t dine or shop for groceries in private because to voters they are public figures all day every day. And they risk running a gauntlet every time they step foot in public.

They’re like amoeba under a microscope and they all deserve kudos for being able to live in that kind of environment. Whatever financial compensation they take home for being in public office, politicians earn every dime of it. Every single one of them.

Too often we ignore the effort and time it takes to do the job of representing thousands of people with different interests and wants.

No government is perfect and every single one could do better but the same can be said about each of us as human beings. I’m guessing most of us don’t get slagged daily for our imperfections though; for our elected officials it’s part of the job. Politicians are held by the electorate to a higher standard than others, including the critics themselves.

And for doing their job, they deserve our heartfelt thanks.

Follow @albeebHerald.

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