Back in October 2015, I presented a TED talk at the annual conference of the Municipal Management Association of Southern California (MMASC). The topic was, “The Why of Public Service.” Facing an impressive crowd of some 200 young, up-and-coming local government professionals, I started the session by asking them to contemplate “why public service?” The question was purposefully rhetorical and meant to engender a sense of personal introspection. For my intent, the question alluded to the lofty purposes, values and needs of our unique democratic system.
I would suggest that this is one of those periods in our national history that make us question our own core beliefs in our system of governance. What makes “America Exceptional” is its ability to balance a representative form of government while meeting the direct democratic needs of the population. All of us, including those that work within the governmental system, need to be reminded of the necessary bonds that bind the citizenry, elected representatives, and the career public servants. It is, and always has been, more than process. This article was first published back in March 2016.