We Americans are not happy with our elected officials. That fact is very clear by looking at recent polls that show about 3/4 of us disapprove of the job congress is doing. There are plenty of legitimate reasons for this dissatisfaction. However, I would argue that while this negativity is completely valid, its a very tough way to move anything forward. And the negativity isn’t limited to the federal level: on a weekly basis, when I open my local paper, I tend to see many more letters to the editor complaining or angry about something our City is, or is not, doing. Perhaps this is just human nature, but I don’t think any of us thrive on negativity, nor do we show our elected officials the path we want them to take if we just tell them what we don’t like about the job they are doing. We need to offer constructive criticism, and we need to offer praise when they do something we like and that we think moves us in the right policy direction.
In the spirit of positive feedback, I took just a moment this morning to write a quick thank you note to my local councilwoman for taking leadership on pressuring our utility to wean off coal and transition to sustainable energies. Our utility still relies on coal for about 30% of its energy mix, and plans to continue this reliance for another 20 years, despite the fact that the utility’s vice president of corporate affairs has said that they are aware that “coal is a dead end.” . Councilwoman Hytopolous is among many regional politicians who have taken the important step of asking our utility to move more quickly on phasing out coal from our energy mix.
It probably isn’t a super popular idea to thank your elected official, but I do think gratitude is often a missing piece of the political sphere. Plus, its good for my karma.