During a recent brown bag lunch, one of the mission's summer interns asked the CG how he handled representing and espousing government policies with which he might not necessarily agree. It's a pretty common question, and I suppose we all struggle with it (in fact, when you do visas, you are occasionally required to actually implement government laws with which you might not agree). But sometimes I wonder if the underlying assumption of the question itself is not flawed.
Why is it that we assume only those people employed by the government are responsible for the government's actions? It's a strange idea, really; you wouldn't hold the lowest ranking member of a ship responsible for the actions of its captain. In the strictest sense, I didn't choose to work for George Bush; I chose to work for America. In my capacity as a public employee, I think I'm probably the least culpable for what any administration does. Katie the visa officer is not often solicited for her opinions on policy by the powers that be.
Which brings me to the more important point: while Katie the visa officer is never asked to give input to the government, Katie the private citizen is constantly provided avenues to influence decision making in DC. The United States is a democracy; the administration is not in charge, we are! The question the intern posed to the CG ought to be a question he asks himself. It ought to be a question all Americans ask themselves. I don't wonder how I can allow myself to work for a government administration; I wonder why I allow them to keep working for me.