The WØRD – “Service”

From the chair

“Our purpose in life is to help others along the way. May you each try to do the same.” Those words are from Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, in a letter to her three sons, and read at her funeral last week.

It is the consummate description of the term “public servant.” All too often in the day-to-day turmoil of politics, we tend to overlook the thousands of people around us whose mission is not power, fame or riches: but to serve.

For our final podcast of 2023, I wanted to focus on those people. It is easy to take them for granted. Sadly the only time we think of them is when they temporarily disappear. A federal government shutdown – something we may see in a matter of weeks – will take away from us some of those services.

Part of the problem is that doing a good job doesn’t make for very interesting news stories. News focuses on the unusual, the unexpected. So when we read about public service, it too often is in the context of something bad. 

It’s also a shortcoming of our competitive political system. Candidates focus on what they see as the flaws in the performance of their opponents. For example, we’re hearing a lot of rhetoric about a failed economy from those seeking to regain power. The leading Republican candidates for president – including the former president – speak incessantly about how our nation is in trouble when the facts demonstrate just the opposite. Our economy is thriving. It isn’t perfect, but it’s the strongest in the world. Inflation has come down, prices of things like gasoline, travel and many food items have come down. Unemployment is at record-low levels, wages are increasing, and the predicted post-pandemic recession never happened.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be focusing on public service that is quietly succeeding. In January we’ll talk with Attorney General Nessel about the literally thousands of actions taken by her team that never make news, but improve the lives of Michiganders every day. We’ll hear from House Speaker Joe Tate on what the 2023 legislative record means to improving your life.

This week we go behind the scenes with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and the work of her team on so many customer-service related efforts that don’t make headlines, but improve the service you receive from your state government. Since her election as Secretary of State in 2018, Secretary Benson has worked tirelessly to make the service you receive from her department more efficient, less costly and even more pleasant. While her department’s work on elections makes the headlines, it’s the other work of the department that impacts your life on a regular basis. 

She talked with us about those services, and how her team has improved them. (The interview was recorded before the federal court ruling on Michigan’s legislative districts, and before The Detroit News revealing the existence of an audio recording of President Trump and Republican National Chairperson Ronna Romney McDaniel attempting to overturn Joe Biden’s Michigan victory in 2020.)

“Dictator Donald” – Republican Accountability Project

In the News

Biden Year-end Memo: A Year of Record Successes – via Politico

Michigan Policy

Michigan Politics

GOP Crime Watch

MI GOP Senate Circular Firing Squad