Art, especially literature, is traditionally used as an effective tool in shaping political ideologies, by sensitizing the masses on the ideals of society and highlighting values of good government and citizenship, a good example of books under this category is Government is us by Cheryl Simrell King and The New Public Service: Servicing, Not Steering, by Janet V. Denhardt and Robert B. Denhardt. The author of the first book writes about the relationship that exists between the people and the government, with mistrust being the major theme, while, the author of the second book writes about revolution in governance, with change being the major theme of the book.
In Government by us, Cheryl exposes the mistrust and discontent that stain the relationship between the citizens and the government, the subject here being the United States government and instances cited from its political history. The American citizens are depicted as strange to their government, a government that only enforces its will over them regardless of their opinion, all this being for the gain of a few who have positions in it.
...for every day citizens of the united states, government are the invisible, somewhat ghostlike structures that shape citizens lives, whether they like it or not (Cheryl, 52).
According to Cheryl, mistrust comes from the elitism of authority and the existence of inequality in the countries economy among other vices, Cheryl observes from Michael Nelson (1982) that, such vices led to resentment that often resulted to rebellion in the mid 90s. She cites the emergence of the anti-government rhetoric and action during the campaigns for presidency by Jimmy carter and the establishment of the British monarchy being the expression of the citizens discontent with the government, which may commonly be seen in many democratic countries, through constitutional changes or rather reforms that are meant to make the citizens conform and change their attitude towards the government (Cheryl, 50-57).
In The New Public Service: Serving, Not Steering, the authors highlight the desirable changes that may be realized if public interest and democracy is actively upheld in governance, this is derived from the changes that are being implemented in the United States and other countries around the world. They view the undesirable government as one that takes authority for business, with the main interest being individual gain and little for those not in governments, such a government is not accountable and is also not based on the interests of the citizens (Janet et.al, 123), they refer to this type as the old political administrators .
The authors prescribe unity between the citizens and the government on a new movement; this can only be if public interests are the main agenda in governance and if the government quits treating the citizens as customers whose productivity is realized through increased taxes. The authors call for a new public administration that is based on inclusion of both parties in both decision making and implementation of policies that are of their interest.
administrators are realizing that they have much to gain by listening to the public rather than telling and by serving rather than steering ( Janet et.al 123-124).
In conclusion, the themes cited from both books seem to concur in that, if citizens develop mistrust and discontent with their government, the solution can only be attained through change in their politics and especially the way the government operates and functions to influence their daily lives.
Cheryl Simrell King (editor). 2011. Government Is Us 2.0. Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe.
Janet V. Denhardtand Robert B. Denhardt. 2015. The New Public Service: Serving, Not Steering, 4th Edition. New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.
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