To paraphrase Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Lives of great persons all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and, departing, leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time.” Maybe it’s the contemplations of my impending retirement or maybe it is because of the richness of the life I have been privileged to live that I have become more aware of and more impressed by the women and men I meet in my community and in the political arena. Certainly there are “bad actors” in all realms of life, but we need to be wary of focusing on someone who does something criminal or unethical so that we do not generalize those actions to describe the whole of humankind. I am a politician by choice and am very proud to be in that kind of profession and service. For everyone who can cite for me a politician or someone in the government that has broken a law or has done something unsavory I can give numerous examples of the flaws and misdeeds of persons in other professions, but a constant focus on the bad actors isn’t helpful.
Too much of the time political campaigns devolve into sparring matches that pit opposition research people with message writers that can turn a virtuous person into an unsavory person. Someone once told me that if it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Concocted juicy tales spun from a little thread of information can be fodder for those who want to win an election by misinformation that can cause someone to lose an election as well as their reputation.
Following this most recent election, I have been particularly excited and pleased to meet most of the 36 new members in the 100-member House of Delegates. This number represents the largest turnover in House membership ever in history. In leadership in the House of Delegates we have a member who has served in prison, a woman who was once homeless, and a woman who escaped with her family from the communist takeover of Vietnam. Each will serve along with the most diverse membership ever in a party caucus in the House of Delegates that leaves white men in the minority! Their experiences will enrich the body and our decision making. The diversity reflected in the caucus of one party will spread across all of the membership of the House, and the product of its work will be better for the range of experiences that will be baked into it.
As a public we need to inspire and insist that great persons represent us in the legislative halls and become known for their works. Democracy will be strengthened and the world will be a better place when they leave their marks in the sands of time.