While it’s nice to believe that the government is always open about issues of public interest, it’s best to not be naive. Representatives are elected to best serve their constituents’ interests and make laws to ensure everything is running smoothly. Ideally, that’s always the goal, but they don’t always come to fruition.
Many often forget that elected officials are indeed people with their own sets of beliefs and morals. If representatives forget the people they can’t relate to, then they have discounted the population of people they’re supposed to represent. In the U.S., that’s how some people operate, especially in higher levels of the government.
In everyday citizens, this may look like hoarding 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer, trying to sell them at an increased price. In government officials, it could be selling stocks worth millions because of insider information about the impending economic crisis before the public had been informed.
Neither the actions by private citizens nor those by officials are appropriate in the current state of society. This is a pandemic that doesn’t care about political affiliation. It doesn’t care about race. The only mission is to spread and reproduce. This is not an opportunity for closed-door meetings regarding illnesses; public health is everyone’s business.
When global problems arise, people typically turn to leaders for guidance because there will be evolving factors that are simply out of their control. This is a global pandemic, something we haven’t seen on such a large scale since the Spanish flu over a century ago. While it may be tempting to look at how the crisis was handled back then, it would be irresponsible to follow similar guidelines due to the advancements in technology and science.
Scientists know how viruses spread, and they have developed medicines and vaccines that have proved to be live-saving. With all of these monumental advances, why was the world so ill-prepared for COVID-19?
Well, societies have come to the point where it seems like people in positions of power are more concerned with preserving their reputations instead of their communities, ultimately putting the public at an increased risk. Choosing not to work with specific companies or organizations due to personal implications is not a luxury that exists right now. Declining tests for illnesses because they were “inadequate” is not an excuse when the alternative didn’t even exist. Private interests should not take precedent when someone is a member of a public office.
Asking for guidance during a pandemic isn’t sensationalism; it’s calling for leadership. Government officials should not be pointing fingers at members of the media for simply inquiring about how elected officials are proceeding with their jobs.
The flow of accurate information is absolutely crucial in maintaining any resemblance of “a government of the people, for the people, by the people.” It also keeps the general public safe and out of harm's way.
Jack Hiltner is a freshman studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of columnists do not represent those of The Post. Want to talk to Jack? Tweet him @JackHiltner.