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Citizenship trumps leadership

As the next national election cycle heats up, and the contenders for the throne line up, it might be an opportune time to consider a better way to make America great.

If our history matters, it’s useful to note that the people who created the ideal we hold so dear were not elected leaders or empowered monarchs. They were “the people” who yearned for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

They launched a revolution to separate themselves from those who had collected and concentrated wealth and power to serve only their own needs and aspirations.

The unhelpful simplicity of the effective duopoly of the two-party system we are forced to deal with, is that it is designed to complicate alternatives.

The party in power serves up a single offering, which is no more than a sequel to its current version, in the hope that nothing will change, for it.

We are not consulted.

The other serves up a vast array of would-be choices until it is forced to settle on the least offensive model with the broadest possible acceptance.

We are not inspired.

For the most part, this method churns out a reliable rhythm of alternating current that swaps power back and forth between selfish entities that have little regard for anything but themselves.

We are ignored.

And when the clash is over, the winners laugh and tell jokes while the losers cry, “shut up and deal!” All of the new notions and bright ideas brought to the fore by honorable citizens seeking - and offering - to improve the American ideal, are dumped in the dustbin and forgotten, at least until the next round.

And so it goes.

Unless, and until, we “the people” launch a revolution to separate ourselves from the concentration of power that quashes all resistance and resists all challenges in order to ensure its perpetuation. And we are left with “leaders” instead of representatives, and the good citizens who stood up and acted simply sit down and wait instead of leaning in and continuing to proffer their energy and intellect to support the good ideas and tamp down the weak ones.

Whether or not Mayor Pete or Vice President Joe Biden - or any of what may be as many as 20 Democratic Party candidates - were to prevail in the established arena, they have asserted that they are here to help. If they walk away after failing to be elected, then they are failing us all.

This is what we propose to change. And, although we hardly propose to able to change it at the highest level of government, we do believe it can be changed at the nearest form of government. The seven noble citizens who serve on the Lakeland City Commission are the “winning” fraction of the more than 30 who have contended for that privilege over the last 10 years.

Where are they now?

Missing in action it seems. Traditional politics holds that when the election is over, so is the contention. The “losers’ should yield to the winners and stop presenting their differing ideas and ideals. Stop participating. At least publicly.

This, we believe, is the first step in the wrong direction.

Citizens who stand for something that inspires them to stand for public office should not be asked to sit down and be quiet as if they have lost their citizenship along with an election. And while a majority of voters may have decided that other ideas were better, or preferable, that does not invalidate the ones that the rest of the voters favored and supported.

It is not useful to disregard the concerns of any voter who actually votes. These are people who take the time for - and interest in - important issues that will affect all of us, and find some level of representation in the philosophy and declarations of one of the candidates.

A simple majority of voters who find otherwise cannot be fairly used to cancel that out. We cannot run our city by a show of hands. All willing participants must be encouraged and supported. And we herewith invite a select group of them to do so.

All citizens who have been, or intend to become, candidates for the Lakeland City Commission, at any time in the city’s history, are accorded an opportunity to address the community - and by extension the current commissioners - through posts on this website, published as presented without edit or commentary.

The offer includes video entries as well.

The most current list includes those listed here, but many many more are qualified.

Christopher Diaz, Larry Durrence, Gow Fields, Jorge Fonseca, Shaw Patrick Jones, Jim Malless, Carole Philipson, Laurel Pullo, Bill “Tiger” Read, Don Selvage, Ricky Shirah, Kathy Smith-Barsotti, Pablo Sologaistoa, Sandy Toledo, Phillip Walker, Bill Watts, Howard Wiggs, and Edie Yates.

Please urge the ones you know to find time to exercise their citizenship and add their cheers (and jeers) to the conversation.

Their voices and opinions and points of view were well considered and well received by significant segments of our community. We submit that nothing has changed enough to make that assertion untrue. Come back! We need you!

Footnote: A measure to eliminate run-off elections is gaining some traction and support and would propose that the top vote getter be elected without the need for an absolute majority. If it had been in effect in the immediate past, neither Jim Malless nor Michael Dunn would have had a seat on the commission.

Just sayin’.

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