Public service is a critical component of participation in the political system
Often, the most visible public service is performed by those who have run for and been elected to political office. In good times,
they sometimes get some of the credit. In bad times, they receive most of the blame. That's the lot of a public servant. So why do it?
We live in a time when growing fear about our uncertain future has pushed the political system, from small towns and big cities to our nation's capital, into frequent bouts of gridlock.
As a 24/7 news cycle has quickened with social media, the level of political discourse has become increasingly mean-spirited and personal. Recently, for example, a former elected official made personal, racially divisive comments about me. Is it any wonder that many people flee from the political system in disgust?
I believe in the critical importance of participating in the political system--from voting to standing for election. It's both rewarding and necessary that men and women of good will and clear thinking engage in honest, open debate.
To succeed in big-city politics requires a powerful, motivating vision of a better world, a plan to get there, a willingness to meet constituents on their terms, and a tough political skin.
My pathway to a profession in public service extends straight back to my childhood in a rowhouse on a close-knit block in
From the home-grown value of volunteering in my neighborhood grew a love of my city. Philadelphians are a gritty, tough people who will help you when you're down. They built a grand city that suffered severe disinvestment in the last century. I wanted to be part of the team that built the new
We are on our way, despite a national recession that caused
unemployment to rise to double digits here.
A range of evidence convinces me that cities like
But continuing our progress toward this safer, greener city will require the kind of political leadership that honestly addresses and strongly encourages residents and businesses to volunteer their services in a time of strained city budgets. I recently launched a strategy for promoting service. With support from the
Citizenship is certainly about observing the law, paying taxes (what FDR once called the dues we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society), and making choices in elections.
It's also about coming together with neighbors on your block and cleaning up, walking a shift for a town watch organization, and mentoring a child who must prepare for post-secondary training.
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Public Service: Citizenship Is More than Paying Taxes and Voting
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