Jeanette Sekan
Jeanette Sekan
By Jeanette Sekan
The Cody (Wyoming) Enterprise

Town halls, meetings with constituents, and normal interaction with the electorate seem to be another subtle change in our governing process.

There have been many news reports about legislators bailing on meeting with those they represent because they are afraid to face their constituents’ frustrations. In discussions with friends, I have voiced my concern that we are living at a time of sea change in our country and how we decide to govern.

I’ve been reminded of the inherent checks and balances that will supposedly make cooler heads prevail; something that, up to now, I have also viewed as the defense of our Constitution and this young experiment in democracy called America.

I fear we are living at a time when those checks and balances are compromised to the point where they no longer provide that defense. In fact, I think in 100 years, history will look at 2016 and 2017 as the time when America and its role in the world forever changed.

Yes, a very cynical and sad view; one that pains me to admit. Until recently, I also counted on reasonable people deciding on reasonable solutions to unreasonable challenges. I counted on the wisdom and compromise of Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, to be our guiding star. But, I think that genie is now out of the bottle.

Whether it is legislators who are afraid to face the voters, the Senate abdicating a tradition that ensures the rights of both the majority and the minority, or a president who seems solely interested in poll numbers, we are witnesses to a watershed moment in history. The citizenry/electorate is also culpable. We’ve abdicated honesty, courage, trust and a sense of community.

A congressman from Oklahoma recently stood in front of a small group of voters and said they don’t pay his salary. His soliloquy included a tone that the voters should think they are lucky he gave up his day job for his service to our country as a congressman.

It was rather jaw-dropping to watch his insolence toward the voters who elected him and his take on how the voters should view him.

We have a president who tends toward a monarchical view of the presidential role; perhaps Congress is succumbing to that same view.

It appears our elected officials only want to speak to those who voted for them and marginalize or ignore those who didn’t. If this continues, the checks and balances of government are toast.

I have frustration with some of the people in charge of our government. It doesn’t mean I hate the government or want it to collapse and fail. With all the flaws of a structure created by men more than 200 years ago, it’s a pretty good blueprint on how good people should strive to live and work together for a strong, prosperous community.

If the checks and balances collapse, if this experiment in a democratic republic wanes, we only have ourselves to blame.

We have some tough choices ahead. For the first time, I’m not sure we’ll choose wisely.

Editor’s note: Jeanette Sekan is a columnist for the Cody Enterprise in Cody, Wyo. and a former resident of Ohio. The Cody Enterprise, founded by W.F. Buffalo Bill Cody and Col. John Peake in August 1899, celebrated its centennial in 1999. The award-winning newspaper is owned by Sage Publishing Co. of Cody, Wyo. Jeanette’s columns are published in The Highland County Press, courtesy of the author and the Cody Enterprise (