Learning to be a Public Servant

Good advice…

“There are certain fundamental things that any man deciding to become a public servant must face.

“First of all, if you are going to run for elective office, you must be sure either that you have earned enough money in a previous job or that you have enough connections so that you may return to active work in your community if you are voted out of office. Otherwise, if you are completely dependent for your livelihood on your salary from elective office, you will find it terribly difficult to avoid being forced into compromises out of fear of not being re-elected. It is an unhappy truth that a man entirely dependent on his salary as a public servant is dangerously vulnerable. He is afraid to take risks. He is afraid to do an unpopular thing, even though he may be convinced that it is right. He is sometimes open to deals.

“Second, the man planning to take public office must be sure that his family is willing to accept this mode of life, which in many respects is unlike any other. The family must be willing to accept the fact that they will live in glass houses; they must be willing to forgo a larger income. My husband used to say that anyone connected with a man or woman in public office needed the hide of a rhinoceros.

“Third, the man must have a genuine love of people and a deep desire to achieve something which can be accomplished only through public service. He must have a sense of satisfaction in doing something for his country. This, I think, is almost essential if public service is to have any validity. A politician interested only in his own personal advancement is not only useless as a public servant but he will eventually fail. The basic success of any politician lies in his ability to make his own interests those of his constituents, so that he merges into the community which he serves. Then and then only can he accomplish what he wishes to do.”

You Learn By Living — Eleanor Roosevelt