Do We Get the Government We Deserve?

Yesterday, Americans by the millions went to the polls and elected a new President.

Today in America, a police officer will risk her life to save someone she's never met. A teacher will stay late to help an at-risk student. A driver will pull off the road to help a stranded motorist.

In America today, a firefighter will charge toward a burning building -- while those inside flee. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will kiss their spouses and kids goodbye, then ship out for foreign lands in order to protect them.

A craftsman will return home to tell his wife that he has lost his job. An entrepreneur will open the doors of her new business for the first time. A doctor will gird herself to tell a patient that he has cancer, and she will formulate a regimen for his treatment.

Today, a tired woman will head to a second job to give her kids a better chance at college. A volunteer will use his lunch hour to deliver food to the elderly. The grand-daughter of a pioneer and the son of an immigrant will wed their lives together.

A bartender will cut off a customer before he has drunk one too many. A child will experience the joy of realizing that letters, so carefully memorized, connect together to form these things called words. A young woman will give birth to a child, and she and her husband will never look at their lives -- or life, itself -- the same way.

Across America, these acts -- these triumphs and tragedies, the heroism and joys, the fear and disappointments of daily life -- will be repeated today by workaday heroes and unsung heroines. Like they were yesterday. And the day before. Just as in Maine the sun this morning will rise once again over the Atlantic and set in Hawaii over the Pacific.

Partisans of one party will celebrate today, while the other side, no doubt, plots a comeback. But for most folks life will go on as before. Because -- despite the bombast and the attack ads and the talking heads and the polls -- most things, the truly important things, rarely have much to do with an election.

The strength of this country is -- and always has been -- its people, the roots that produced such leaders as Washington and Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln, T.R. and Truman. It is we, the people, who "ordain and establish" our Constitution and government. Not vice-versa. And it is we who make this country work, for better and worse.

It has been said that we get the government we deserve, often as a way to rationalize the leadership we got. But, rather than expecting the public to settle for diminished expectations, perhaps it is time our leaders remembered their obligation to be worthy of the people they serve.

Starting with the man we have just chosen to work in a smallish, not-quite-round office in an ornate building far, far away from most of us.

William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.
Yesterday, Americans by the millions went to the polls and elected a new President.

Today in America, a police officer will risk her life to save someone she's never met. A teacher will stay late to help an at-risk student. A driver will pull off the road to help a stranded motorist.

In America today, a firefighter will charge toward a burning building -- while those inside flee. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines will kiss their spouses and kids goodbye, then ship out for foreign lands in order to protect them.

A craftsman will return home to tell his wife that he has lost his job. An entrepreneur will open the doors of her new business for the first time. A doctor will gird herself to tell a patient that he has cancer, and she will formulate a regimen for his treatment.

Today, a tired woman will head to a second job to give her kids a better chance at college. A volunteer will use his lunch hour to deliver food to the elderly. The grand-daughter of a pioneer and the son of an immigrant will wed their lives together.

A bartender will cut off a customer before he has drunk one too many. A child will experience the joy of realizing that letters, so carefully memorized, connect together to form these things called words. A young woman will give birth to a child, and she and her husband will never look at their lives -- or life, itself -- the same way.

Across America, these acts -- these triumphs and tragedies, the heroism and joys, the fear and disappointments of daily life -- will be repeated today by workaday heroes and unsung heroines. Like they were yesterday. And the day before. Just as in Maine the sun this morning will rise once again over the Atlantic and set in Hawaii over the Pacific.

Partisans of one party will celebrate today, while the other side, no doubt, plots a comeback. But for most folks life will go on as before. Because -- despite the bombast and the attack ads and the talking heads and the polls -- most things, the truly important things, rarely have much to do with an election.

The strength of this country is -- and always has been -- its people, the roots that produced such leaders as Washington and Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln, T.R. and Truman. It is we, the people, who "ordain and establish" our Constitution and government. Not vice-versa. And it is we who make this country work, for better and worse.

It has been said that we get the government we deserve, often as a way to rationalize the leadership we got. But, rather than expecting the public to settle for diminished expectations, perhaps it is time our leaders remembered their obligation to be worthy of the people they serve.

Starting with the man we have just chosen to work in a smallish, not-quite-round office in an ornate building far, far away from most of us.

William Tate is an award-winning journalist and author.