It is very hard to find principled people in public office who are prepared to fight for their convictions.
I understand that the slow erosion by many office holders to a compromised set of principles achieved by a rationalization that certain actions are done for the “greater good” is something the founding fathers feared more than anything. I would say that the majority of elected people came to office do the work of the people, but by degree, many have taken the random walk away from their original goals. In my own personal experience, I have found that those who have lost sight of that due to a compromised position, many times need only a leader of character and moral fortitude they can rally behind.
I recognize that School Directorship governance is not to the degree that State Representation is, however I believe it is a microcosm of the same. When I joined the Daniel Boone School Board, taxes were being raised 10 percent annually for the 15 years prior; wasteful spending was standard fare, nepotism was common, intimidation of board members and administrators who had a differing opinion was rampant, and information was deliberately being withheld from the public (minutes were not be taken for many public meetings and the public was barred from speaking). School government was performing tasks and delivering services it had no competency or business in providing. It took years, and a series of small incremental steps to effectuate big changes. I was able to accomplish this first by simply being “the voice,” the one who calmly pointed out at every meeting the very things the majority was doing that were in conflict with the law, their own standards, or common sense.
It was not easy to be the lone voice and an outsider, however, it did not take long to realize that there were other board members who privately agreed with my positions but were afraid to step out and state those same things publicly. I learned that all they needed was someone else to be the “sword and the shield” to give them the courage to come forward. Gradually, one board member after the other came to stand behind me to face down immense political and public pressure to fundamentally change the way our district and board conducted itself. I went from the odd man out (8-1 votes on every vote of consequence) who was barred from many committees and never allowed to chair those I was appointed to serve on, to being elected the President of a board where we had unanimity on a whole host of items (collective bargaining contracts, budgets, debt, facility improvements, school closures and others).
I relate my school board experience to “turning the Titanic.” As the captain, you are in the wheel house turning the wheel to avoid the icebergs and many times it feels as though it makes no difference; as if being set on a predetermined course. But through a series of small actions and changes, you can make a fundamental difference that moves the “Titanic” ship onto a new heading that can only be measured by looking back to see the curvature of your wake.
About seven years ago I read the book “The 5000 Year Leap” and the author writes about what the founders called “Natural Law” instead of God’s law, but essentially it is the same thing. The founding fathers believed in Natural Law (God’s word) as the supreme law and from that stemmed all else. Moreover, they looked upon the creation of our Constitution as an event that was actually “influenced, guided, and governed” by the hand of God. It was in every sense of the word, a miracle.
The beauty of our American system of government is that power rises up through the family unit, to the local townships and municipalities, to the states, to the Federal level. So in many ways it is with the family that the success or failure of our system resides. I believe there are three legs of a balanced community: Faith, Family and Government. I can not speak for all families, but only for my own, but as I look at my children, my sincere hope is that as a parent I am able to instill in them a strong moral compass with the strength of character and fortitude to follow it. Our faith and relationship with God is paramount in setting that compass on the right heading and to provide the support needed when strength is lacking.
Andrew Basile is a Republican candidate for the Pa. General Assembly, State House 130th District.
He can be contacted at www.AndrewBasile 130.com