Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Politics of Power

A New York Times editorial today said it very well,

“History suggests that once a political party achieves sweeping power, it will only be a matter of time before the power becomes the entire point. Policy, ideology, ethics all gradually fall away, replaced by a political machine that exists to win elections and dispense the goodies that come as a result. The only surprise in Washington now is that the Congressional Republicans managed to reach that point of decayed purpose so thoroughly, so fast.”

The short form is “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

If you examine the record of the session of Congress just ended, it is readily apparent that the Congressional Republicans have no intention whatever of accomplishing anything for the good of their country. It is clear that they are directing their time, efforts and energy to only one thing, and that is the enhancement and preservation of their own party’s power.

Congressional Republicans are quite willing, in fact, to damage their country’s interests by inaction because the actions, institution of immigration policy reform and other items of national concern, would jeopardize their grip on the power they hold.

Congressional Republicans are quite willing to damage their country by passing bills that tighten their grip on power and weaken their country’s moral basis in the eyes of the community of nations.

Our founders framed our government as a system of checks and balances, and that system has worked throughout history even when the executive and the legislative branches were of the same party. It worked because those in government placed country above party. It worked because they placed governing above power.

It worked because absolute power had not yet corrupted absolutely.

But now it has. The purpose of those in power is no longer the service of one’s country, and they no longer even pretend that it is. They no longer even speak of “remaining in office” or “continuing to serve.”

They now openly speak of “maintaining control” of the House and Senate. Contribution to country, service to fellow man, honesty, integrity, ethics, decency and morality have all fallen to the corruption of power.

But the fault lies not only with those in office.

They are but men, no stronger or weaker than anyone else. We put them in office and leave them there for term after term by re-election. We give them the power that corrupts and so we share the blame when they fall to its siren call.

It is not the initial election to office that leads office holders to the sense of invincibility that corrupts. It is the endless re-election by the voters that leads them to believe that they have the power to act without accountability.

Asking those in power to change on their own is like a farmer deciding that his pigs are getting too fat and, while still pouring food into the trough, tells the pigs to stop eating so much. All that does is annoy the pigs and frustrate the farmer. He still has fat pigs, because pigs at a trough will not stop eating.

(Did I just imply that our legislators are like pigs? If so, I apologize to pigs.)

Voters re-elect incumbents because they are the “known quantity” and require no research, no judgement. The challenger is an unknown quantity and therefor a risky choice.

If our Congress is to change, it is the voters that must change it. It means that voters must work harder and in greater numbers. It means that voters must pay attention to what legislators are doing, and spend time and energy investigating “new blood” to infuse our into our legislative bodies.

Change, as it has been for more than 200 years, is up to us.

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