Wanted: Active Citizens – Ynet

To ensure that the best people will go into politics and get elected we must assume full responsibility for our role as citizensOne regrettable conclusion from the nightmarish month of the Second War in Lebanon is that anyone cannot do anything. Not every person can fulfill every role. Israel, almost more than any other country in the world, is dependent, even for its very existence, on the quality of its leadership.There are those who take this to mean that a change of electoral regime is in order. This would be a mistake. There is no perfect electoral regime and there are no magic solutions for securing the election of good leaders. No democracy in the world has cracked the code for ensuring that only highly qualified, talented and upright individuals would make it to power.The quality of a country’s elected leadership does not depend on the electoral system. Rather, it depends on the willingness of its citizens to take an active part in the political process so that it results in excellent leadership.If a country’s citizens are not willing to put time and effort to this end, no electoral system will be correct for that, and every system that is put in place will be corrupted by those who seek in politics nothing but their personal gain.What’s the use?Some may argue that “it’s no use” because “all politicians are the same” and “anyway, the system corrupts even the good ones.” But this is merely a cop-out. Not all politicians are the same. Some are better than others. Some are more suitable for their roles and some are suitable for one role but not for another.The system also doesn’t corrupt everyone, certainly not equally. Some are more resistant to its pressures and temptations than others. Some go into politics with a real commitment to the public interest and some do not.To ensure that the best people will go into politics and get elected we must assume full responsibility for our role as citizens. In the Israeli system, which is based on parties, citizens cannot wait until the day of elections to make their voices heard. When that day comes, it is already too late to make a real difference.Electing party chairs who are truly capable of being prime ministers in Israel and a list of candidates who are worthy of being members of Knesset and ministers will only be happen if citizens are active within the parties in the months and years prior to elections.Get activeMany, though certainly not all, of the people active within the parties do so for personal considerations, to phrase it gently. The share of registered party members who do so out of a sense of civic duty with no expectation of personal gain, except for the satisfaction of having elected good leaders, is low.These members shine for their active citizenship in the sea of indifference, but they are too few to make enough of a difference.Citizens in Israel do much for their country and their fellow citizens: pay taxes, serve in the IDF, and volunteer in numerous NGO’s, but the most important thing is neglected. Sadly, it is often those who would otherwise view themselves as good and politically aware citizens who refuse to register as members of parties.Excuses, excusesThe excuses are numerous and varied: “I prefer not to be identified with a political party”, “It might hurt my career”, “I hate the Party”, and “Did you see the kind of people who are active in the party?”If citizens are not willing to register to a party, good candidates will not be elected on their own. If citizens stay away from political activism and let some party members elect party chairs and lists according to irrelevant criteria, then the result is bad leadership. The damage done by bad leadership will not be fixed by all the tax-paying, IDF serving, NGO volunteering citizens.A most valuable contribution citizens can make to ensure Israel’s future is to overcome the revulsion of politics, register to the party most closely aligned with each of one’s positions, and once in a while invest a few hours in getting to know the party’s candidates for prime minister, the government and the Knesset.This includes attending meetings with the candidates, reading about them, following their activities, voting for the best among them, and preventing votes from those who have proven themselves unworthy.It is possible and even right to call for the resignation of the leadership that has brought us this far, but before we do so it’s important to make sure that we are willing to do what it takes to ensure that the current leadership is replaced by worthy and good leaders, capable of making the kind of weighty decisions required of leaders in Israel.To read the article on the Ynet English website.