March 01, 2019

Three New Year Resolutions Every Politician Should Make and Keep

Denise Meridith

Denise Meridith
CEO/President/Owner/Denise Meridith Consultants Inc

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This article by Denise Meridith was published on in Jan 2019. Michael Smerconish is an anchor on CNN.

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 cannot get any worse than 2018. People will eagerly watch what resolutions his/her favorite rap or reality television reality star will commit to work out, eat healthy or spend more time with family on TMZ or The Ellen Show. But what America really needs is for its elected leaders to succeed at making and keeping three New Year’s resolutions.

The first resolution should be: “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 2019 blown 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.

The second New Year’s resolution for US politicians should be: To tell the truth and uphold the Constitution. Despite the legend of George Washington never telling a lie, probably 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, like “to the best of my recollection” or “I was not under oath” or “I misspoke.” They are owed the truth, accountability and an immediate apology, when needed, 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 such as I (e.g., freedom of the press), XIV (e.g., 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 XV (e.g., right to vote not be denied or abridged on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude), as well as II (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.

The third New Year’s Resolution for politicians should be: To publicly share his/her 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 of a speech or promise that was made just a few months ago. Every politician should publish annual goals in the traditional media and on his/her 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, and commit to these three resolutions that will minimize the divisiveness and result in a unified and stronger US democracy.

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