Voters Need Patience, Not Change

by Greg Richards | 11/11/94 6:00am

Now that the Congressional elections are mercifully concluded, it is time we stepped back to look at our handiwork.

For weeks the media has promoted the idea of America's "angry" voters, who are disgusted with politicians and tired of the status quo. What were we so mad about? And why have we been made to endure mind-numbing smear campaigns day after day?

Maybe we're angry because we feel that our elected officials aren't doing the job we charged them with -- to find solutions to America's problems and make it a better place.

We're frustrated that monumental problems such as urban violence, health care, foreign debt, environmental degradation, and the widening rich/poor gap continue to plague us. But these are complex dilemmas, with multiple causes, that defy simple answers.

Why, then, do we let politicians sucker us with big promises and claims? I guess we're so overwhelmed by America's problems that we want to believe their assurances of quick and easy solutions. It is more comfortable to think that there's an easy way out. No wonder they never live up to our expectations.

So now we have this illusion of a politician who knows how to solve our problems if only we put him in office. This idea is dangerously foolish and it is the cause of the mud-slinging campaigns -- the candidates are falling over themselves trying to fit our mental image and make sure the other guy doesn't.

The smear campaigns are a result of our own expectation of perfect lawmakers who really understand what needs to be done and are upstanding enough to do it.

If the source of our anger is really our own unrealistic expectations, I doubt the results of this year's elections will stem our wrath. To hear Senator Dole put it, the outcome was essentially a "vote of no confidence in the Clinton agenda."

He and other Republicans had better not get too smug. If they don't make the great strides they promise and we've come to expect, they could be out on their ear when the wheel comes around again.

But changing the guard and wildly swinging the government back and forth between left and right is not the way to go. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Parties don't come up with solutions, people do.

If we do not adjust our naive expectations and have patience with our politicians, the huge obstacles we face may never be overcome.

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