We often hear the title of “Armchair Quarterback” applied to various people, then there is the “Tears for Fears” song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, but as of late it seems to me that everybody wants to “Drive the Bus.”. People stand and make statements that a certain politician should have said this or said that, done this or done that, taken the opportunity to do whatever the commenter believes would have changed the course of history. The thing is, the politicians taking this input were elected to “Drive the Bus.” The people giving all this input, well, were not selected to “Drive the Bus”.

We often hear the title of “Armchair Quarterback” applied to various people, then there is the “Tears for Fears” song “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, but as of late it seems to me that everybody wants to “Drive the Bus.”. People stand and make statements that a certain politician should have said this or said that, done this or done that, taken the opportunity to do whatever the commenter believes would have changed the course of history. The thing is, the politicians taking this input were elected to “Drive the Bus.” The people giving all this input, well, were not selected to “Drive the Bus”.

 

Now I don’t want anyone to think that I devalue freedom of speech or consider it unimportant. Not true, but there is a difference in freedom of speech and just making random statements proclaiming what should have been said or done. History shows that those who really exercise this freedom are involved and committed and have skin in the game. They were willing to risk everything they have, including their lives to stand by a principal. They were not just pitching a tantrum like a two year old and making statements about how someone should be doing what they think should be done.

 

Within the next few days we will begin the first stage of the process for placing the drivers in each appropriate “bus”. The primary elections will begin the selection of people which will be on the November ballet and then have an opportunity to “drive the bus”. Some of the busses will be short busses, and then ranging in size up to the “big bus” where the driver is already in place and will be there for another couple of years. All of these candidates and potential leaders are placing themselves in a position for us to give them the authority to make decisions regarding a wide range of political and societal issues. Our involvement and impact on this outcome begins with the voting process but can be much more. Some choose to help with campaigns, others attend political meetings, and others maintain communications with office holders and their successors.

 

Similar situations exist with government at a much more functional level. State and municipal employees have daily encounters with citizens that simply want to tell everyone what to do, without even a clue about the processes, priorities or other extenuating circumstances at hand. There are “Hall Monitors” everywhere! Input comes in all types of methods of communication, but the internet and social media have empowered every “armchair quarterback” with inspiration to move to “hall monitor” and then to “driving the bus”. However, they want to “drive the bus” without a license. They want to give direction without being a part of the solution or even the process. There is a way for citizens to be a part of the process whether it is with a political candidate or with governmental staff. Being a part of that process and getting in the game with any type of ante gives at the very least some validation to their input. One doesn’t have to be all in, no need to be in money, marbles and chalk, but to at the very least make a time investment. That time investment may constitute a visit with staff or attendance at a committee or council meeting stating their case in a responsible and reasonable manner and understanding that a ‘no’ may be the answer. Without involvement, one doesn’t know what restrictions may inhibit the course of action that seems so right or what other items have a higher priority.

 

So the next time the urge arises to start giving instruction at random and one holds the belief is that the only true solution is now your epiphany, take the time to visit with the someone who may be driving that particular bus or at the very least some staff. Your input may be valuable and appreciated. Then again the answer may be ‘no’, but we all really need to learn to live with a ‘no.’

 

Paul Richardson is the director of public relations and events for the city of Neosho.