LESLIE CRISS: Seeking folks of integrity to send to Washington

By Leslie Criss

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
– Martin Luther King Jr.

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”
– Groucho Marx

Holding a public office is no easy task. I know this not from personal experience, but because my father was an alderman in the city of my birth for years before serving a long stint as city manager.
He also ran for a state office when I was much younger, but he was unsuccessful. Sometimes I wonder how different my family’s story might be if Dad had become a state legislator.
My sister and I witnessed what a headache it was for our father just serving the people of a small north Mississippi town.
I bristle when I hear folks make a blanket statement about elected officials, saying they are all dishonest, greedy and without integrity. Because of my father – and a few other men and women I’ve known personally – I know that is untrue.
However, might I just say I am so entirely disgusted with our U.S. Congress that I would like to give them all a piece of my mind.
I know there are some who’d even listen. And those are the ones who deserve to be considered for re-election.
The rest? Not on your life.
I believe it’s past time to clean house. And the Senate, too.
It’s time to search for men and women who possess integrity and honor and a willingness to work together with all manner of humanity – even with people whose opinions and political parties differ.
Clearly, the ones in power now have lost that ability, if they ever had it. And it seems unlikely they’ll do any soul-searching and changing of hearts, so do we really want to leave the future of our country in their hands?
In a perfect world, we voters would be able to seek – and find – a whole lot of Jefferson Smiths to send to Washington to take the place of some of the selfish, self-serving politicians who refuse to give much thought to the wishes of those of us who gave them their jobs in the first place.
You remember Jefferson Smith. Played by the incomparable Jimmy Stewart, Smith was an honest, decent, ethical man chosen to fill the term of a recently deceased senator. He was chosen to be a puppet in the hands of Smith’s state’s governor.
If you’ve not seen Frank Capra’s 1939 film, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,” you must.
When the movie premiered in Constitution Hall in D.C. in 1939, politicians labeled it anti-American because it portrayed corruption in American government. One senator said the film made members of Congress look like “a bunch of crooks … and showed the Senate as the biggest aggregation of nincompoops on record.”
And here we are, more than seven decades later …
The aim of Capra’s movie all those years ago was to show that one man, one person could make a difference.
Imagine what a difference the voting citizens of this country could make come time to elect a new Congress.
Just imagine.

leslie.criss@journalinc.com