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Letters to the EditorReader writes on appraising politicians

Reader writes on appraising politicians

Political Performance Appraisals

If we currently lived in the United States of America we would be quite familiar with the performance appraisal system of polling. Taken by various agencies, TV networks are rife with President Obama’s most recent approval ratings, offering favourable or unfavourable comparisons with earlier polls and even comparing his to those of past Presidents. With poll numbers fluctuating up or down depending on the mood of the country, a sitting President’s legacy lives and dies through continuous public scrutiny.

In the municipality of Mississippi MIlls there is no formalized ongoing polling system prior to the one exercised at the voting booth every four years.  However, informal expressions of favour or disfavour, analysis of individual elected official’s performance and the whatfors on specific issues can be heard daily in coffee shops, living rooms and social media. The democratic process of our country accommodates the right to voice publicly a wide variation in perspective on any given issue and offers to the elected an ongoing appraisal of how the public views their success or failure in delivering on their election mandate.

The astute elected official on being made aware of how he/she is measuring up to expectations can then solicit further input from the electorate and make the necessary adjustments and/or expand communication where deemed appropriate — future success at the voting booth depends on it.

When I listen to a wide range of supporters and dissenters on any given issue or on any specific person, I recognize the political risk for both candidate and the electorate that is inherent in drawing conclusions from a “herd mentality” — it is so much easier to ride the wave of the noisy crowd than to put one’s own effort into the fact finding necessary for soliciting the truth.

Elections have consequences.

As in the USA, so it is in Mississippi MIlls—we have an obligation as an electorate to seek out the facts on any given issue. Not everyone can be in error all the time but our nature is to rise to complaint easier than to compliment — as well as voicing our disfavour I believe we need to voice our approval of what are seen as successes, acknowledging the choices made that meet the expectations of the electorate. Performance appraisals serve a twofold purpose—they tell us how we need to improve to be successful and remain in our current position and they tell us how our performance is meeting expectations and where we excel.

I’m sure it isn’t an unusual occurrence for those elected to public office to find themselves in a position of responsibility for which they are ill prepared to assume—it takes a wise person to recognize that fact. Likewise, it takes a wise and knowledgeable electorate to put the right person into the position in the first place.

Karen Hirst

 

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