FROM THE EDITOR: What are the metrics of failure in government?

(BRANDON HANSEN/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)

Everybody has complaints about the government, but where does all the blame go? It generally gets pushed towards the other political party that you’re not a member of.
We’ve all heard “there are two different realities” and “facts don’t matter anymore.”

But to me, maybe something even more disheartening is occurring: Results don’t matter anymore.

Very rarely anymore do you hear about what goals have been achieved. We hear vague things like “combating homelessness,” “world security,” “getting people out of poverty,” “strengthening borders,” “solving the healthcare crises,” “solving the opioid epidemic,” but very rarely is the finish line ever described.

Remember when we started the War on Drugs? Are we any closer to a drug-free America or have things gotten more convoluted? More Americans now die from drug overdoses than auto accidents.

Education has been an issue that has been on everybody’s mind lately with the contract negotiations between Chewelah staff and the district office. This was sparked by the state’s decision to “fully fund education,” but it appears to not even being close to fully funded. The issues with education seem to have grown and not simply gone away by throwing (some) money at the issue.

On the flip side of this, government does a lot of things in our everyday life that we never hear about. I could never leave my parking lot during a snow storm without government. When I lost a job a bunch of years back, unemployment allowed me to quickly get back on my feet, I use the library and a court report in this very paper shows that people are kept in check via law enforcement. But those don’t necessarily make headlines. The mundane aspects of government that do operate are not talking points, they don’t have guidelines or goals that anyone is particularly interested in. I haven’t heard Bernie Sanders lay out his great plan for waste treatment plans across the country.

In this age of social media war, I think the vast majority of people have no idea what the end goal for things is. Perhaps the government, agency or group working on various topics don’t have a good idea either.

There are issues and social programs that will have no “Mission Accomplished” banner to unveil. I have the pessimistic attitude that there will always be the haves and have-nots in the society. Somebody will be doing something not on the up and up. But we can’t even sit down now and be like “what are the acceptable metrics to ensure that you are doing your job?”

Look at all the foreign policy advisors who still have jobs after the invasion of Iraq showed no weapons of mass destruction. How many times do people in our government get things wrong and don’t experience the slightest blowback?

Are social programs working? Are they not? Who do you praise or blame for that? Are they the lawmakers, the department heads? The people on the ground? If those people make missteps, what are the ramifications and where does the buck stop?

What qualifies as failure? We can talk about all the things wrong with the United States until our faces turn blue but then you turn around, realize it’s the largest economy in the world and our quality of life is very, VERY good. Are there issues? Oh you betcha! But there is a wide gap between rousing success and absolute failure. But social media would have you thinking it’s one or the other and there is no in between. We just bounce from pointless news story to pointless news story. Someone tweeted this, you won’t believe what the other political party is trying to do, get a load of this very specific situation that happened thousands of miles away.

We call our representatives “leaders,” but all they can do is propose bills and cast votes. Asking them “What would you do?” is the wrong question because they aren’t a dictator, they’re a representative. I think the better question would be is “what can you get through the legislature?

We have no metrics for failure or success now, just if they’re on our team or not. Government almost reminds me of T-ball games I played as a kid. Everyone competed, but no one kept score and in the end someone peed their pants.