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Politicians, remove your masks

Someday, sooner or later — and I hope it is sooner — we will dispose of these masks and see each other again.

I was checking out at a local grocery store the other day, and a very pleasant woman was checking me out. We joked around a bit and I think she was smiling under her mask, but maybe not. Maybe she was frowning and, under her mask, she was thinking, “I just wish this old guy would get out of here.”

On the drive home, I thought how I miss seeing people’s faces. You can tell a lot from a face, but not so much if they are partially hidden behind a mask.

Then I realized, heck, politicians have been wearing masks forever. They show up every two or four years, tell us how bad things are in Washington and how they can fix it. They tell us what we want to hear, hoping we can’t see through their politically masked face.

Will Rogers, a humorist and newspaper columnist, thrived during the 1930s. He poked at everyone, especially politicians, and, though it may have been humorous, there is a lot of truth behind his comments. He said, “Their platform will always be the same, promise everything, deliver nothing.”

But the one I liked the most was, “If you ever added truth to politics, you have no politics.”

It seems Washington has mastered the art (or deception) of hypocrisy. In the 2007 movie, “Charlie Wilson’s War,” a question is asked: “Why is Congress saying one thing but doing nothing?”

Charlie answered, “Well, tradition, mostly.”

Now we are just three months out from a national election. In the next 90 days we will be flooded with promises from candidates. The country is angry and frustrated, demanding change. We seem to be divided not only by party, thanks to the politicians and the national media. The politicians thrive on division. They want to divide us by race, gender, religion, economics, and age. They constantly poll the American electorate, trying desperately to find ways to garner each little segment of their diversionary tactics. It’s clear as crystal, to me, anyway, that, nationally, party politics has surpassed putting the people’s work first. It’s gridlock on steroids, and could be our nation’s single largest issue.

So, my thinking is, this may be the most critical election we have had in many years.

I once read, “Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing, while intending to do another, then you do neither what you said nor what you intended.”

Folks, this has to end. We must replace the hypocrisy with integrity. We must call out those who say one thing but do another. We must ask the tough questions of the incumbents asking to keep their job, like, why didn’t you do what you said you would when we hired you? We must look past their excuses and, when yet more promises spew forth, we must ask them, “How are you going to do it? When will you introduce the legislation? How will you shepherd it though to get bipartisan support? And, should we keep you in office if you don’t get it done?”

Let’s make them answer those questions before we check off their little box on the ballot.

As we either go to the polls or vote by mail this year, let’s keep a couple things in mind, starting with the fact that they work for us, not the other way around. We are hiring them to do our work, not the party’s work. We are hiring them to get things accomplished, not point fingers. We are hiring them to unite Americans and give us not only results, but a better America, with vision and hope for the future.

If they are unable to perform at the level they promised or meet our expectations, then we simply say, “Nice try, now go out an live like the rest of us and give someone else a chance.”

Sense my frustration?

If not, let me clear it up. I am worn out with politics as usual. I see an America with great opportunities if only our leaders would work together to seize them. To the politicians, I say, throw away those political masks forever and tell us the truth. Let us see through the politics and let us know your real intentions. Be honest with us and do the work we hired you to do. And, above all, remember you are a public servant, elected to serve our wishes, not yours, and to advance our opportunities, not yours.

And, to the voters, I say, look past the party and look more at the candidate. Look past the rhetoric and look for results. Stay informed and be a demanding and fair employer.

And, if you are not happy with their work, let them go.

That’s my 2 cents, which many think is overpriced! What’s yours? Let me know at gregawtry@awtry.com.

Greg Awtry is the former publisher of the Scottsbluff (Neb.) Star-Herald and Nebraska’s York News-Times. He is now retired and living in Hubbard Lake. Greg can be contacted at gregawtry@awtry.com.

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