If we have a representative democracy in this country, that means, or should mean, that elected officials are the representatives of the people – they take our place, and represent our interests and well-being.
One of the most pernicious ideas to gain currency in my lifetime is the notion that there is something inherently corrupting about being an elected official. Pete Schbarum’s Proposition 140 did immeasurable harm to this state, not only by making it more difficult for California to have a professional, experienced Legislature, but also by gratuitously enhancing the power of the Governor’s office. ( With a few exceptions, California’s Governors have not been noted for their vision and leadership.)
Instead of running down elected officials and making “politician” a term of obloquy, we should be treating our elected officials with the same respect we ourselves would wish to be treated. And we should expect them to be skilled professionals, and pay them accordingly. (Careful academic studies have shown that the most professional legislatures are the most responsive legislatures, contrary to right-wing myth.)
Governance is hard; it is not a job for amateurs, as Arnold Schwartznegger amply demonstrated.