August 8, 2009

Honoring Those You Serve

It has been a truly interesting and incredibly revealing week in Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. Not only has our current member of Congress, Brian Baird, compared constituents protesting against government run health care to “brown shirts” and “Nazis”, the Wall Street Journal is now reporting that Baird took a trip to the Great Barrier Reef that cost taxpayers $103,000 (this does not include the cost of the military aircraft)

This trip is being reported on the heels of another story in the Journal that detailed Baird’s “scientific discovery” trip to the Galapagos Islands. It has now become clear why Baird, Nancy Pelosi, and Democrats in Congress spent $500 Million in taxpayer dollars to buy more airplanes for their travel.

Baird’s trips and his recent comments underscore the level of arrogance and hypocrisy that plagues this Congress. By comparing constituents who disagree with you to Nazis who are creating a “environment that gave us Timothy McVeigh”, you are not only dismissing and diminishing the very real concerns that the American populace have, but you are also attempting to set yourself above the very people you serve rather than serving among them.

Robert K. Greenleaf states in his book Servant Leadership that “too many who presume to lead do not see more clearly, and in defense of their inadequacy, they all the more strongly argue that the ‘system’ must be preserved…”. We are seeing Greenleaf’s words play out in the current Congress. Our leaders believe they know better and do not want to be bothered with “petty” desires of we the little people. That is not leadership. Leadership is a willingness to engage with those with whom you might disagree, not to belittle and demonize those people. Leadership is a willingness to serve and, through that service, elevate others who also wish to lead.

I have dedicated a large portion of my life to public service, whether during my time in the United States Navy, or serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs under President Bush. In every instance, I had the opportunity to not only lead, but also work for leaders who truly cared about people. I saw, first hand, the level of hate filled vitriol that was spewed at President Bush during his eight years in office, and I was amazed at his ability to remain calm and thoughtful in the face of outright hostility. It’s quite ironic that our Democrat members of Congress could learn something from the way President Bush carried himself in the face of adversity.

I am looking forward to being a new leader, and new voice for the people of Washington’s 3rd Congressional District. We have a true opportunity to restore humility, fiscal sanity, and empathy to the Congress. I am looking forward to the journey, and a vigorous debate with Brian Baird over who can best serve the people of Southwest Washington. I hope you will join me on this journey.

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