The New Year Resolutions Every Politician Should Make and Keep
After a month full of criminal indictments, a government shutdown, historic stock market losses, and White House resignations/retirements/firings, many Americans’ response to the New Year may be just to indulge in the estimated 360 millions of consumed bottles of champagne during the holidays. But 45% will dutifully create their lists of New Year’s resolutions and hope that things get better in 2019.
People will eagerly watch what resolutions their favorite rap or reality television reality star will commit to working out, eating healthy, or spending more time with family while promoting on TMZor The Ellen Show. But what America really needs is for its elected leaders to succeed at making and keeping three New Year’s resolutions.
To Establish and Stick to a Budget
Over 800,000 Federal employees were furloughed or forced to work without pay starting at midnight on December 22 because Congress had not passed nine agencies’ budget allocation bills by October 1. Meanwhile, the US Federal budget deficit for FY (fiscal year) 2019 blew up to 18% the past year to $985 billion.
The concept of New Year’s resolutions is thought to have been started by the Babylonians 4000 years ago. They made promises to their gods to repay their debts and return any borrowed objects. This would be a sound approach for the US Congress to take in 2019.
The Romans used to celebrate the new year on March 1. On that day, the old magistrates had to affirm before the Roman Senate that they had performed their duties in accordance with the laws, and had to promise good conduct for the coming year.
To Tell the Truth and Uphold the Constitution
Despite the legend of George Washington never telling a lie, nearly all politicians have lied for righteous reasons (e.g., national security), selfish reasons (e.g., to hide infidelity or bribery), or for yet unknown reasons (e.g., President Donald Trump earning the Bottomless Pinocchio from the Washington Post).
Usually, the scandal and punishment are consequences of lying about the activity, rather than the original wrongdoing. Americans do not want any more evasions.
No more “to the best of my recollection” or “I was not under oath” or “I misspoke.”
The people are owed the truth, accountability, and an immediate apology from any elected or career civil servant.
Executive, legislative, and judicial quagmires could be avoided if politicians acknowledged and defended all components of the US Constitution. That includes amendments that secure freedom of the press, all persons born or naturalized in the US are citizens, no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens, and the right to vote not being denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. And don’t forget about the right to bear arms.
According to a University of Scranton study, only 8% of people keep their resolutions. Suggestions for improving implementation include keeping resolutions simple, tangible (e.g., “working out twice a week” instead of losing weight”), and having confidence (i.e., believing one can do it). Another recommendation is to make the resolutions obvious. For example, people who share their resolutions and progress on blogs have a better chance of success.
To Publicly Share Their Goals for the New Year and Be Held Accountable
This does not mean to make a campaign promise or endorse a position that is later forgotten, despite that YouTube video which highlights that promise. Every politician should publish annual goals in the traditional media and on their social media. The public must participate to make this resolution viable. Constituents should be vocal throughout the year and hold the politician accountable via their letters and phone calls, political contributions and, most importantly, their votes.
Janus was a mythical king of early Rome, who was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus had two faces: one to look back on past events and forward to the future. In 46 BC, Julius Caesar changed the New Year’s festivities to January 1. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions, and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies during that occasion.
In 2019, all of our political leaders should look back on – and learn from – all the missteps in 2018 as well as the New Year’s resolution intentions of previous civilizations.
They should commit to these three resolutions that will minimize the divisiveness and result in a unified and stronger US democracy. If they can’t achieve this, maybe the American voter’s resolution will be for better representation.