What Would Will Rogers Say Today?

“Short and sweet” seemed just right for a holiday week blog.

I found the perfect gem to share, a quote from Will Rogers, as I flew back to New York from Colorado where I’d been visiting my mother.

Humorist Rogers (1879-1935) once said: “Why pay to go to the circus when you can watch Congress for free?”

Those of you who follow me regularly (on the Huffington Post or on my own site, America Comes Alive!) know that I think this country and our U.S. government are as good as it gets…I consider myself fortunate to be an American. But regardless of what side of the Congressional aisle you favor, there are moments when Will Rogers’ quote rings true.
So I was going to share a light moment with readers and call it a day.

But then all my plans for the blog changed.

The plane wheels touched down. I turned on my phone, and as the e-mails began to scroll through (and you should know this is Sunday morning), I found an e-mail from Geri Shapiro, Westchester Regional Director for United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

I met Geri at a local meeting on health care about six weeks ago and had e-mailed her afterward about an issue that is important to me. Her e-mail apologized for the delay in getting back to me and noted that she had been swamped (I totally understand that). She went on to say she was now free enough to set up a meeting. (By the way, anyone who can burrow through six weeks of their In Box deserves a LOT of credit!)

So no more “short and sweet” blog with a quick quote from Will Rogers. Congress and our representative system of government go back up on pedestals. Instead, I’m going to quote from Thomas L. Friedman’s column in Sunday’s New York Times (11-22-09):

“The standard answer [to what is wrong with our country] is that we need better leaders. The real answer is that we need better citizens. We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things.”

So I second Friedman’s call for more active, participatory citizens, and I add the above story as proof that our government representatives really are there to listen to us and help us–if we help them.

As for Will Rogers, I still love the quote, If Rogers had lived in the early 21st century instead of 100 years ago, I have no doubt that he would have amended his comment to something along these lines:

“Why pay to go to the circus when you can watch reality TV with people like Tom DeLay for free?”


“Why pay to go to the circus when you can watch Chicago’s Rod Blagojevich for free?”

Or insert your own choice: Octomom, Kate and Jon, Levi Johnston, Sarah P, whatever you like…

And then express your thanks for living in this country by pitching in and doing your part. Citizen activism is the true foundation of our government.

And by the way, Will Rogers’ son, Will Rogers Jr., didn’t take his father’s quote too seriously. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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