One of the events I miss having this year was Parker Elks’ Youth Day. Seniors from Parker High spent the morning serving in public offices with the Town of Parker, La Paz County and the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Some of them also worked in private businesses. It was followed with a big shindig at the Parker Elks Lodge. The goal was to show these young people how our American system works.
A few years ago, the late Tim Edwards, who was Parker’s Public Works Director, was in charge of Youth Day for the Town. He gave the students serving on the Town Council an assignment. He gave them a list of streets that needed work, the scope of the work on each street, and the approximate cost. He then told them how much money they had to work with. Of course, it wasn’t anywhere close to what the total cost for all the streets would be.
The students had to prioritize the work and decide how to do the most amount of good with the money available. Edwards wanted the students to understand the sorts of decisions elected officials must make, and that many of these decisions are not easy ones.
I understand Edwards’ successor, Steve Ziegler, has given students on Elks’ Youth Day similar assignments.
The fact is, being an elected official is not an easy job. No matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy. This is especially true if you are in an executive position, like a governor or the President.
One of the great truths of politics is it’s a lot easier to run for public office than it is to actually serve in public office. I think President Donald Trump has come to that realization. I don’t think he had any idea what he was getting into when he ran for President.
It’s also easier for some elected officials, such as members of Congress, to complain about what other elected officials are doing when they’re not the ones who have to make the actual decisions.
Consider the situation with the coronavirus pandemic. The numbers are still increasing. Much of the economy has been closed in an effort to control the virus. As a result, a lot of people are out of work and the economy is reeling.
At what point should you reopen the economy so people can go back to work and the state and the country can get back on their feet? Or do you keep the economy closed because the virus is still spreading?
These are not easy decisions. No matter what elected officials do, they’re going to get trashed by someone.
Consider the two extremes on the pandemic. One side holds that “stay at home” orders are an unconstitutional attack on civil liberties. The virus is a hoax, and death counts have been inflated because health officials get more money for them. The Democrats, the “Globalists,” the “Deep State” and the Chinese Community Party are working in a conspiracy to destroy the American economy. They want to destroy President Trump because he stands for America and has done such wonderful things.
At the other extreme, you have those who claim Trump is an idiot who did nothing to try to contain and stop the virus when it began to pose a threat. They accuse the Administration of being complicit in the deaths of Americans. Reopening the economy now would mean the deaths of millions. The Administration and the governors who want to reopen the economy are placing the profits of big corporations above the health and lives of Americans.
Imagine trying to create a plan to reopen the economy when you have those two extremes looking over your shoulder.
In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey has called for a gradual reopening of the economy. Some of the steps have already been implemented. Elective surgeries can take place again. Non-essential retail businesses can reopen on a limited basis, as can barber shops and salons. This week, restaurants can reopen for inside dining, with social distancing and other restrictions.
Of course, this isn’t enough for some and it’s too much for others. We’ve seen some sheriffs in our state say they won’t enforce Ducey’s stay-at-home order. From what I can see, it’s not that they’re great defenders of liberty, as some on the right claim. It’s that they feel there are better uses for their limited resources than citing people for violating “social distancing.”
The sad fact of the matter is the coronavirus has been as politicized as just about everything else is in our society. I’m starting to think Americans of different political persuasions will soon start arguing about the time of day.
Good luck, elected officials. It looks like you’re durned if you do and durned if you don’t.