The situation in Flint represents our distrust, disgust and dissatisfaction with government and politics, but the situation in Flint is representative of how many of us feel about government overall.
While the firms retained by the Michigan Governor focused on coordinating the state’s response, the Governor needed a ground game to find a way to connect with the people who lost his trust - And he failed. Likewise, the President and many Members of Congress have lost their way with the American people.
The Governor needed to find a way to make a meaningful connection with the people of Flint and work hard at rebuilding that trust. He needed to confront every issue with direct and no nonsense action - Instead, he turned to blame and focused on politics. Much how Washington, by way of New Jersey and New York are functioning today.
The Governor of Michigan needed to bring the stakeholders together, to make them part of the plan and use their network to find the necessary funding and support. Instead, he failed to include Flint’s Mayor in key meetings and he failed to bring the community together. The Republican-led Congress has failed to work with Democrats on vital issues affecting individual lives and they have failed. While the President leads through Executive Orders instead of govern through consensus.
The Way Forward, is to ENGAGE.
I believe The Way Forward, is to ENGAGE. Through strategic communications, strategic relationships and something valuable to share, the Governor should have focused less on preserving his legacy and work harder at protecting the people of Flint, while enhancing the reputation of the City and the businesses in it -- So that a town in Michigan, also known as Buick City, The Auto City or The Vehicle City can be know again as America’s Most Modern City.
But we are not there yet. And we are stepping further away from there in Washington. To our political leaders:
Forget the politics.
Look at all the issues surround the issue.
If politics is important, figure out where you can find consensus through chaos and start their without sacrificing your values. But remember, you are their to represent people not party.
Keep everyone informed. Town Hall Meetings are important but so is being visible in your community. Result in grocery store campaigning. I want to see you in my downtown, at my corner drug store and in the restaurants around me so that when you do show up to a town hall you won't be surprised by the comments from the crowd.
Stay results-driven. While it is hard to have just one vote, you are our voice. Use it and stay focused on why we elected you to serve. If we did not vote for you you are still there to do what is best for your state, district and country.
Recognize and embrace the sense of urgency. Politics is a cycle but the policies you make could last a generation. For many of us, can't wait that long. So understand the urgency of the issues before you.