Why Representative Barbara Norton’s Comments Matter

By now, many of you have heard about State Representative Barbara Norton’s comments about how the Declaration of Independence is “unfair” and “not the truth”, regarding her opposition to a bill mandating that schoolchildren in Louisiana be taught the Declaration of Independence.

Some have been understandably upset, to say the least.

And here’s why it matters so much:

Our elected officials can’t just show up and “check the box,” without the same level of careful preparation and practice that a musician requires to play a musical instrument well, or that a pilot needs to fly an airplane, or doctor acquires before performing a surgery. But that is what is happening now, more and more, with who we are electing to public office.

You see, our elected officials have a great responsibility. They can support legislation to encourage businesses to relocate to our community, along with good paying jobs for families, or they cause them to leave. Our elected officials can improve the education system, and help inspire a lifelong love of learning for our children, or condemn them to a lifetime of barely getting by. They can remain silent to the erosion of our liberties, and support resolutions that send our nation’s sons and daughters into harm’s way.

Yet, even with all of this opportunity to “make a dent in the universe”, not only are young people disgusted with politics, and are skeptical of its usefulness to make meaningful change, there is also now a reluctance of good candidates to run for public office.

In fact, only one out of three believe running for public office is honorable, and even fewer feel that the idea of working in some form of public service is appealing to them – and the number of candidates qualifying for public office show it.

And an electorate that is increasingly more unaware of our American history, and the principals upon which our nation, and the Declaration of Independence was written, only exacerbates the crisis we have in this country of electing competent officials to public office.

Thomas Jefferson said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” That’s because knowledge is freedom in a democracy, and a responsibility.

Fewer engaged voters, and elected officials who are consistently not prepared for the job they were elected to do, will eventually reduce the pool of talented candidates interested in public service to a handful of those barely worth keeping in office at all.

You see, as voters, we must be in the “people” business. As Jack Welch, the former Chairman and CEO of General Electric said, “We spend all our time on people,” and “the day we screw up the people thing, this company is over.” The exact same is true for our government, from the statehouse to the White House.

So yes, when Representative Barbara Norton says that “all men are not created equal”, it confirms what so many already believe: We’ve messed up the “people thing” in government, and it’s time that the voters start doing something about it – like a boss.

Louis R. Avallone, Chairman
Caddo Parish Republican Party