Saturday, May 16, 2009

Real Representation

I attended an ADEC (Association for the Disabled of Elkhart County) “Learn at Lunch” educational meeting on Friday. The speaker was Jackie Walorski, Indiana State Representative. Although her topic was legislative updates related to funding programs for the disabled, I learned a lot more.

Jackie is probably unique as a politician, but she is a self-proclaimed straight shooter. She reminded the group repeatedly that our government is, essentially, of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Did you know it is the job of our representatives to help us? It sounds obvious, but I’ve come to see government as a group of individuals detached from the real world, playing with other people’s money, and spending most of their time arguing with each other.

When individuals at this event expressed frustration at applications for assistance that lay dormant on some bureaucrat’s desk, she repeatedly told them, (paraphrased) “Call your representative. Call me. It is our job to solve your problems. We have a staff specifically to address the requests and concerns of individual constituents. Let us cut through that red tape for you and get people the help they need.”

Maybe it’s because the only time I hear a politician speak is when it’s election time or when the cameras are rolling, but I have never heard a government official say such things. It blew my mind. What she was saying is exactly true, but I didn’t think anyone believed it anymore.

I’ve always admired Jackie for fighting for family friendly legislation, but I didn’t realize the extent of her passion. She does what she does to help people. People, whether disabled, unemployed, or otherwise, are her main concern and the source of her drive.

She mentioned that new legislation comes about because someone wants something started or stopped, and that idea often comes from an individual or a grassroots organization, rather than from legislators’ pet projects.

I’m still not sure I could ever survive the political realm, but I have a new respect for those who choose to pursue that vocation, especially when they do it to help people and make our state, city, or nation a better place. And I will continue to pray that their decisions will truly benefit the most people.

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