We must hold elected officials accountable

December 31, 2021

With the imminent and welcome demise of 2021 approaching, I began to wonder what the new year would be like. The fears and repercussions of the pandemic, the sudden emergence of the Omicron variant for the holidays – just as we thought we might be getting ahead of COVID, and the social divisiveness that plagues our country, make it difficult to predict the future. History, which is rarely a part of our educational curriculum these days, is a great teacher – not only about the achievements of the past but, also, its failures.

So, at first, I reflected on our recent history in search of any hints that would foretell what might be in store for us in 2022. I realized very quickly that our recent history was overly influenced by those who promoted lies, denied clear evidence of an armed and deadly insurrection to overthrow our government and overturn an election, and placed party over country first; politicians of all sorts who fear revenge from an authoritarian ex-president (some fearing the loss of their next election and some actually complicit in the insurrection itself), members of Congress who ignore their responsibilities to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, our republic, and a once-heralded democracy around the world; state politicians who, among other things, feel free to deprive women of their fundamental rights, block our sacred constitutional right to vote, and pass legislation empowering the losers to overturn legitimate election results to suit their own purposes; and, local elected and appointed officials who cater to supporters who prefer to live in an undefined relic of the past, disparage the present, and seek to deprive an often silent, frustrated majority of a better future. Rather than foretelling smoother sailing ahead, all of that and more left me with a foreboding sense of despair and anxiety about the future.

Being the eternal optimist that I am (for better or worse), I concluded that those dark clouds from the past cannot be allowed to control the future nor force us to accept that the future is destined to follow recent history on a preordained path to our undoing. Make no mistake! If we do not change course, we are headed into an even more divisive and chaotic period in our history.

We, as a nation, as a community, and as stewards of future generations, can change our course for the better. To do so requires each of us to hold our government officials accountable to the truth and their oaths of office. Question the motives behind their actions and statements. Ensure they do not misuse their positions of trust to entrench themselves in their positions or to gain unfair political advantage over their opponents. Do not accept everything you are told at face value. Stand back from whatever political party or candidate you support and honestly ask yourself, are they telling me the truth? Have they served me in a way that has truly made my life and the lives of those around me better?

It is time to come to grips with the fact that we are being fed misinformation every minute of every day through social media, the press or directly from politicians, public officials and even friends. Do not accept statements at face value – seriously think about and question what you are being told. Does it reflect the facts that you can see and hear yourself or reflect alternative facts they want you to believe? Watch more than one news-based cable channel; listen to different points of view. Differentiate between truths and lies. Process, in an unbiased way, all you have learned before reaching any conclusion. 

Each of us can make a difference in the new year!

Richard J. Perry Jr.
Rehoboth Beach
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