Seventy years ago, some of us "long in the tooth" folks were engaged in a world-wide conflict to decide whether or not our democratic form of government was to survive. The alternative was to have governmental decisions made by tyrannical dictators whose unilateral decisions contained no provisions for compromise with others of opposing valid positions. As we all know, the combined efforts of the free world prevailed and the inalienable right of its people to come together to make mutually acceptable decisions on issues of international importance was preserved.
Now our nation is witnessing its own internal conflict wherein the consensus voice of our democratic society has become secondary to the polarized and uncompromising positions on both sides of the political spectrum. The definition of political leadership is becoming blurred into a jumbled montage of posturing, print media attention, and TV and radio sound bites. What has become embarrassingly absent in the minds of a majority of our citizenry in the current equation is the integrity of individual and cumulative political stewardship.
The economic and social status of this country is being held hostage by a few prominent attention-seeking politicians and their "me too" associates. Neither faction has indicated a willingness apart from unacceptable caveats to the other side to move off of its extremist stance and negotiate from a stewardship posture to resolve outstanding differences.
Democracy thrives when its citizens of differing opinions are willing to come together behind steward leadership on both sides. Democracy dies when its citizens accept the decisions of self-anointed leaders who are unwilling to take the time and trouble to successfully arbitrate their differences.
Nationwide polls reveal that our populace is overwhelmingly disappointed with the members of our governmental bodies who were elected to represent them in conducting their government's affairs. The candidates for office appeared before those who elected them as team players sincerely interested in moving our nation forward. Regretfully, when the time arrives for them to act together as a responsible governing body, they fail to function effectively. What becomes a missing link is the vital stewardship factor to remind them of their responsibilities to the whole and underscore to them their interdependence upon each other. To all too many of our disillusioned citizen patriots, it would seem that their political leaders prefer the creation of a political stalemate over constructive problem-solving. Nationwide polls are telling us that voters are becoming ever more stridently convinced that the time has come to say enough is enough!
Next year will be an important political year in our nation. Incumbents and potential candidates for election to public office will be forced to undergo a high-resolution litmus test. In order to win office, they will be expected to exhibit the characteristics of stewardship built into the Bill of Rights by the founding fathers of this great nation. With our birth came the responsibility of proving to the world that free men and women had the wisdom to select to represent them in governmental office those qualified fellow citizens who would place the country's overall welfare first in their decision-making.
We are beginning to witness a great body of men and women from throughout this land who proudly call themselves Americans, casting aside their feelings of despair to come forward to reawaken the entire country to the fact that our government has existed for 237 years because we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people who will follow those who have demonstrated that they have within them what we here at home call our Statement of Community Values, aka Stewardship.
This nation is at a crossroad. For all too many the question is whether or not our existing political party structure can recapture the confidence of the electorate. Can their leaders demonstrate that they have the internal integrity required to fulfill their responsibilities? The alternative before us is quite simple. It is the creation of a new political party comprised of a nationwide body of stewardship-oriented consensus builders capable of reaching mutually acceptable solutions to complex issues? To pose the question another way, is your political party representing you in the best possible way?
Richard A. Johanson is founder and board chair of Johanson Transportation Service of Fresno and is active in business and civic projects.