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Posted: December 27, 2009 12:00 a.m.

New Year's slogan

About this time last year, disgusted with the November results of America's 2008 general election, I decided to approach 2009 in a positive light. Realizing that pouting as January arrived would make for a very long year, indeed, I composed a little slogan and repeated it all year as mantra to keep myself going: "It'll all be fine in twenty-oh-nine."

Well, 2009 turned out to be a rough year, not only for me but for so very many people. My father-in-law passed away, an uncle developed a terminal illness, my aging mother battled physical issues, and life threw me a few other curves as well. In retrospect, it's a good thing I was trying to be positive; otherwise 2009 might have proven insurmountably difficult.

Now, however, as yet another New Year approaches, I'm a bit reluctant to try another cute slogan. I've been approached by friends who mean well, and also by some folks I don't even know who have asked if I've considered running for elected office. They either genuinely think I can lead America out of this morass, or they have a twisted sense of humor and want to see me embarrass myself on a grand stage.

My answer is an unequivocal and emphatic, "No!" I absolutely hate playing politics and, even if I had all the answers, would be ineffective since I will not kiss the derrieres of the self-aggrandizing demagogues who seem to inhabit so many elected positions in our land, just to get them to do something they should have already done.

Three other issues preclude my running for any elected office, as well. First, I'm not perfect. There are skeletons in my closet as there are in everyone's; I have no desire for my dirty laundry to be aired out and discussed from sea to shining sea. For example, I stole a candy bar once when I was 11 and although I later made restitution to the proprietor, that incident from half a century ago still bothers me to this day. My personal failings drive me to try to be better today than I was yesterday, but I have no desire to discuss painful private matters publicly.

Secondly, I have no money. That I worked honorably as a public school teacher, coach and also as an airline employee is of little consequence. Any opponent would trumpet as a deficiency my lack of accumulated material wealth and would point out that I've never run a company, never had to make a payroll in tough times and never negotiated multimillion-dollar deals.

Thirdly, I have no military experience. Though fiercely proud of family members' service in World War II, I never personally served in America's armed forces. And I believe it's a serious matter that America's commander-in-chief has zero military experience. The irony is that 40 years ago I thought myself lucky to attend college instead of going to Vietnam. But having spent my professional life serving society as a schoolteacher is not the same as military service. And that, to me, is a big deal.

All of that simply bolsters my resolve not to run for elected office. It also serves to raise the question as to how any citizen in my situation can best take action to assure that America remains a government of, by and for the people. I've done everything a voting, tax-paying citizen can to let my elected officials know what I think. I'm pleased to report that actions of my representatives in various local, state and federal districts falls pretty much in line with what I believe. My representatives respond to emails and phone calls, or their staff provides me with requested information. I'm doing all I can to let them know what I think; my representatives appear to respond.

And it seems to me that the great majority of Americans feel pretty much as I do. They're conservative by nature. They want less government, an end to entitlements, an effective solution to the problem of illegal aliens, a moratorium on trying to solve the rest of the world's problems and a swift, bold course of action to eradicate our enemies. But the problem is that Congress seems to have a mind of its own.

And so, as another New Year dawns, I find myself again disgusted; but this time with a Congress seemingly gone mad. A return to the proven policies of President Ronald Reagan, implemented in no-nonsense John Wayne fashion, would go a long way toward smoothing out the mess on Capitol Hill.

Therefore, my New Year's Resolution is to regularly refer to my newly minted slogan: "To solve our problems in twenty-ten, ask what John Wayne and Ronald Reagan would do - Amen!"

Nat Harwell is a long-time resident of Newton County. His columns appear regularly on Sundays.


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