Monday, April 12, 2010

How We Created the Mess in Washington, Part 2

Suppose we could somehow always know who the best person to represent us in Washington is. Suppose we were always right. We’re still left with the old man’s opinion, “Even if you elected Billy Graham to Congress, he’d become corrupt.” Actually, he was right.
It goes back to the Rotten Barrel Theory. It’s not that a few rotten apples spoil the whole barrel; it’s just that a rotten barrel spoils the apples. We’re partly responsible for the rottenness of that barrel.
We vote for the ones we think are the best people for the job; then we leave them to fend for themselves. Our congressmen need supervision. Strange as it seems, some of them need their constituents to hold their feet to the fire.
I mean it. I have heard some congressmen say privately that they know what they should be doing, but they’re under considerable pressure to do the wrong things. People with oceans of money threaten them with defeat in the next election if they don’t cave in. Those same congressmen have said that they’d like to be able to say that their constituents are angry and would ensure their defeat if they do the wrong thing. In short, they'd like as much pressure coming from us on certain issues as they're getting from greedy big shots.
Of course, I’m talking about the Congressmen who’ve not become corrupt--the ones who are not beholden to the banksters, Big Pharma, and the military-industrial complex. In the 1930’s movie Dracula, Renfeld wasn’t as subservient to the Prince of Darkness as many of our congressmen are. Likewise, I don’t see any hope for Nancy Pelosi seeing the light, either. (Like Lucy Westenra, also in the movie Dracula, Nancy Pelosi seems quite averse to the light of day.) She also seems perfectly content in her role as the Tammy Faye Bakker of Congress.
When I came to the realization that our congressmen need to hear from us, their constituents, I came to another realization: We need to educate ourselves. That was about the time I heard the remark, “Congressmen are like cockroaches. You shouldn’t be as concerned about what they’ll steal and carry off as what they’ll fall into and mess up.”

In those days, congressmen were content to steal only what they could carry off, which usually amounted to millions of dollars. Now they’re stealing trillions by borrowing it in our name for us to repay, and flooding the economy with fiat dollars that reduce the purchasing power of the dollars we already have. Incredibly, they’re using the rationale that they’re enriching us by further impoverishing us.
It took me almost ten years to realize that we needed to do more than just elect “the right person to the right office.” Afterwards, I devised a formula for what else we, as voters, should be doing.
We should inform ourselves on the issues of concern to us. We should inform other citizens. We should inform our elected officials and keep them under close supervision. (See my earlier article, “How to Contact Your Congressman.”) It was at that point that I became less focused on elections and more focused on political education.
(Speaking of educating yourself, I’d be remiss if I didn’t provide a helpful link so that you can see how your Senator or congressman voted on issues of concern to you. What those issues are, and how you feel about them is your decision. I won’t decide for you. Go to Open Congress.)
For about five years or so, I thought that my formula for cleaner politics should be enough. It wasn’t. As I went deeper into causes and solutions, I found the root of the problem—and, with it, a hint of a solution. At least one of the people on my mailing list knows exactly what the most important thing we can do to ensure more responsive—and responsible—representation is. I’ll discuss it in the next article.

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