The power of the ballot

In government and politics, where it seems we face a crisis every day, there appears to be a growing concern that those in charge are not only unable to adequately do their jobs but also are not being held accountable for their failures.

In Chicago it has become a daily occurrence to read about individuals, especially young people in the inner city, who are shot and killed as a result of gang violence.  These are people who live in a city that many have called the greatest in the world. That may be true for its beautiful lake front, soaring buildings, five star restaurants and high end shopping on the Magnificent Mile. But in the impoverished black community where unemployment never drops below double digits, neighborhoods lack a grocery store, children cannot leave their homes feeling safe and the quality of education is questionable, it’s hard to think of the city as being great.

In Flint, Michigan children have been allowed to drink water individuals knew for months was laced with lead. This continued even after General Motors stopped using the water the children were drinking because it was corroding their engine parts. It’s hard to imagine that those in charge of preventing such a tragedy would allow it to continue even after a problem was clearly evident.

These are just two examples of countless problems facing communities across our country. These problems in some cases have been around for years, others for decades and even more just coming to the surface. It’s not difficult to understand the frustration of citizens who put their trust and faith in their elected and appointed officials to find solutions to those problems and correct the wrongs that exist.

What is even more annoying is to listen to those individuals who for years have either held elected office or been in high government positions, talk about the problems and insist that solutions must be found. These are the same people who were there when the problems either started or were already in existence and have done nothing to solve them. Aware of this continued failure to right the wrongs, one can easily understand why this election year voters are taking a hard look at the candidates running for office.

It has become extremely important when evaluating those individuals who have been in positions of authority that they be asked a simple question. Why have you failed to do anything about the problems you say must now be solved when you have done nothing to resolve them when previously given the opportunity?

The criticism of the failure of appointed or elected officials to make changes when they had a chance to do so is not limited to one political party. In most cases both share the blame for inaction, incompetence and the inability to work together for the common good.

So this year, the year in which we elect a President who conceivably will govern this country for the next eight years along with a Congress that could put us on a path to success or keep us on a road to nowhere, everyone must do their part. Do not just listen to what candidates say they will do, but also look at what they did when they had an opportunity to make a difference. If their past performance has been negligible and weak, more than likely their promises for the future are hollow and will never happen.

Do not reward failure by giving those who accomplished nothing additional time to do more of the same. The most precious right you have is the opportunity to vote to improve yours and your children’s futures. Use it wisely.

Michael Fryzel

Michael Fryzel

Michael Fryzel is the former Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration and is now a financial services consultant and government affairs attorney in Chicago. He can be reached at ... Details