Why do candidates for Congress spend millions of dollars for an office that pays $ 169,200.00? Between 2004 and 2006, members of Congress’ net worth increased an average of 84% – book advances, speaking engagements, stock and land deals, privileged mortgages, etc.
The United States is no longer the representative democracy our founders conceived because of a glaring flaw in our Constitution: it allows individuals to make a career of public office. This creates a critical conflict of interest for politicians between their own ambitions and their responsibility as representatives of the American people.
These “careerists” gradually lose their principles in acceding to campaign contributors, heeding opinion polls, and following their political party’s line. Career Congressional members, many of whom have been in office most of their adult lives, have usurped much of the sovereignty of the electorate.
This has become a government of the people, by the politicians, and for the special interests, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln.
Self-serving, entrenched Republican and Democratic politicos create costly and harmful programs to secure votes. These programs increase Americans’ reliance upon the government, while diminishing our initiative, self-sufficiency, and self-esteem. The average employed American is paying higher payroll taxes than income taxes – for programs from which he or she may never be the beneficiary. These programs, such as unemployment insurance, welfare, Social Security, and Medicare, make recipients completely dependent on the government.
Incumbents seek “earmarks” and “pork” to reinforce their constituents’ loyalty at the polls.
Earmarks are expenses that conference committees attach, without a vote by Congress, to approved spending bills. In 2004 and 2005, there were an astonishing 15,268 earmarks that squandered over $ 40 billion from the U.S. Treasury on non-essential projects, such as the infamous “Alaskan bridge to nowhere.” And in 2007, despite all the political posturing about reform, there was $ 10 billion of wasteful pork – with the House Appropriation Committee alone writing over $ 4 billion in earmarks as of November 2007. These funds would be better used to significantly reduce our national debt. Instead, members of both political parties indulge in this underhanded funding; self-serving legislators use their earmarks, an unnecessary waste our tax money, to support their ambitions to remain in office.
Legislators constantly battle to reach their goal of being part of the powerful, majority political party. Fortunately, the contentious battle between the parties has prevented the United States from becoming an oligarchy. Unfortunately, the polarizing battle for dominance has increased enmity to ethnic proportions. We have a dysfunctional government because the bitter partisanship precludes the ability to compromise. The mean-spirited pettiness of either minority party discredits the administration’s performance, blocks appointees, obstructs important legislation, and convenes endless committee hearings for harassing purposes. Sadly, we have no loyal opposition. The divisiveness, which conceals the theft of our sovereignty and the abuse of the legislators’ power, is so extensive that it affects the entire country. Unfortunately, we are so engrossed in this vitriolic rivalry between the political parties that we are unaware that career politicians are exploiting our government. We have been mislead into thinking that members of the opposing political party are the adversaries, while it is actually the career politicians, skillfully looking out for themselves, who are the bad guys. Politicians use the opposing political party as a scapegoat to divert the attention of voters from their own failings.
The art of leadership, as displayed by really great popular leaders in all ages, consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention into sections. – Adolph Hitler
We can eliminate the ability of office holders to make a career out of civil service by limiting each federal elected office to a single term and guarantee the perpetuation of our representative, democratic Republic.
Art Woodrow, a veteran of World War II who is dedicated to restoring our democratic process, is the founder of The Democracy Conservator Foundation DCF is a not-for-profit, apolitical organization seeking to increase the involvement of U.S. citizens in the political process and to encourage the discussion and debate of issues our society faces today. To learn more about how to make your vote count, visit http://www.democracyconservator.org
George Carlin comments.