As I grow weary and more cynical with each new round of political attack ads, I take little solace in knowing the election is just 3 days away. Frankly, I have no confidence in any of the candidates at any level of government. Not one of them has given me any sense of their capacity to comprehend the real problems we face as a country or their innate ability to lead us into a better future. This particular part of the quote sums up everything that is wrong with politicians, “to sacrifice their own importance often comes hardest of all.”
The common denominator among our current ruling class is their inability to sacrifice anything, much less their own importance. And if you think my description of a ruling class is inaccurate please note that 18 of the top 20 richest counties in America are in the surrounding communities of Washington D.C. Greed and power seem to attract a lot of people to public office because that’s where the money gets exchanged for anything one could want or need. This isn’t unique to America either. According to an Op-Ed piece written by Joel Brinkley, “After all, the Chinese legislature’s 70 richest members accrued more wealth last year than the combined net worth of all 535 members of the U.S. Congress, the President and his Cabinet.” Please don’t mention this to any of our elected officials, I can only imagine how much that news would bother them and what the cost might be for the rest of us.
Greed is probably the most universal human emotion of all and no country in history has ever avoided its consequences. When someone donates millions of dollars to help elect a particular person to the presidency does anyone believe they are motivated by altruism? Grow up, they want a return on that investment that will make them even more money. It’s a fee for services rendered not a donation. Politicians know this and actively pursue this arrangement for their own benefit not ours. Money talks and the loudest voices have the highest prices. The Founding Fathers knew full well how dangerous the lust for power becomes in every form of government and they did all they could to insure that power was equally distributed across the 3 branches of government so that no one person, even the president, could lead us into trouble.
What they didn’t realize, 200 years ago, was how much power could be controlled by 2 parties who are political opponents in name only. Campaign advertising, public debates and media coverage are just theatrics designed to entertain the voters and keep us from thinking about the critical issues, like how we are ever going to pay off a $16 trillion debt? Neither party can answer that question truthfully because the truth would get them voted out of office. The truth is we will have to raise taxes on everybody and we will have to cut benefits across the board. Anything less than that is an absolute lie and both parties have to perpetuate it just to keep their jobs. As proof of my position just ask yourself this question, “When was the last time you ever heard an elected official offer to cut his own pay or benefits because the government can’t afford it?”
Political parties exist because the public needs someone else to blame. “Those guys screwed this up”, is our rationalization for not taking responsibility. When we have an enemy to hate and fear we can rest easy, secure in the knowledge that we’re right, even if the facts prove otherwise. A $16 trillion debt is the direct result of every politician for the last 50 years grabbing as much as they can to repay the special interests that gave them access to the treasury in the first place. Republicans and Democrats are just two sides of the same coin that gets flipped every day in Washington to see who gets first shot at all the available dollars in the budget. We can all sit at home firmly entrenched in our political beliefs and the parties that best support them but that’s not what’s going on in Washington. When we see Joe Biden laughing at Paul Ryan during their debate that’s not a sign of leadership. Anybody who has been in office as long as he has and still thinks there is anything to laugh about, is so clueless and self-absorbed that we should all be worried. Add that to the fact that Ryan didn’t even bother to call Biden on the effects of decades of lousy government and his participation in it and maybe we just need to read between the lines and realize both parties are in this together for their own selfish purposes, not public service.
As much as I hate the political process, I still believe America is the greatest country on earth. Why? Because we the people still want it to be and we will do what is necessary to make it great again. When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights they created a legal contract that insures the people’s right to self-government. Having said that, please don’t think for one minute that I am suggesting we overthrow the government. What I want to see is a grass-roots movement to take care of the problems at the smallest level possible, you and I. If you’re a business owner, hire just one more person and give them decent wages and benefits. If you’re retired, volunteer at school to help mentor kids who are struggling. If you have stuff lying around your house doing nothing, donate it to a church or non-profit where it can go to someone who needs it. If your neighbor’s too sick to take care of their lawn or shovel the snow, do it for them. If you have a car, offer to drive the elderly to their appointments.
The Bill of Rights protects us as individuals but all of us together make it a country. We don’t need Washington to tell us what needs to be done. We all know the problems and collectively we will solve them if we just stop being afraid to try. Ignorance and fear are the basic tools of government but knowledge and compassion are the only responses we need to overcome these tactics. We, the people, have to be willing to sacrifice our lives, our livelihoods and our own importance in order to give our children a future we can all look forward to, where government stands in awe of us. It starts today.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.