By Robert Wallace
I’m sick of the rampant profiteering that is modern American politics. I know that there were never Good Old Days when politicians were saints, but at least the folks who ran our country for the first few decades had by and large opted into the program when the most likely outcome was death, not a life of complacent opulence and easy power. They risked their lives and their sacred honor to fight for freedom. They put principle ahead of their very lives, and so they – more than any other mortal men or women to walk this earth – could be trusted to act as representatives of their constituents in good faith.
But now the incentives have gone all to hell. You don’t have to risk your life and your honor to become a legislator. You just have to sell them. To the highest bidder. As Sir Thomas More said: “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?”
If you’re wondering what provoked these thoughts, it was an article from the Washington Post: Sweeteners for the South.
You’ve probably heard of Sen. Mary Landrieu. The “Louisiana Purchase” headline has been up on Drudge for some time now. Supposedly she managed to wrangle $100M for her home state in exchange for her vote. It turned out that wasn’t true, and she wanted the record set straight:
And so it came to pass that Landrieu walked onto the Senate floor midafternoon Saturday to announce her aye vote — and to trumpet the financial “fix” she had arranged for Louisiana. “I am not going to be defensive,” she declared. “And it’s not a $100 million fix. It’s a $300 million fix.”
Of course I wouldn’t want to single Senator Landrieu out unfairly. She had company:
After Landrieu threw in her support (she asserted that the extra Medicaid funds were “not the reason” for her vote), the lone holdout in the 60-member Democratic caucus was Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas. Like other Democratic moderates who knew a single vote could kill the bill, she took a streetcar named Opportunism, transferred to one called Wavering and made off with concessions of her own. Indeed, the all-Saturday debate, which ended with an 8 p.m. vote, occurred only because Democratic leaders had yielded to her request for more time.
Even when she finally announced her support, at 2:30 in the afternoon, Lincoln made clear that she still planned to hold out for many more concessions in the debate that will consume the next month. “My decision to vote on the motion to proceed is not my last, nor only, chance to have an impact on health-care reform,” she announced.
Is that what is has come to? We may very well end up with a government take over of health care – approaching 20% of our entire economy – and Senators aren’t voting based on principle or policy but on how much dough they can spread around to their pals and supporters back home. What’s worse – they aren’t even bothering to pretend that that isn’t what they are doing.
These are your elected representatives, America. These are the men and women you voted into office. And these are the men and women that – by and large – you’re going to vote into office again every couple of years until they shrivel up and die and get replaced with new parasites.
These are our false prophets. The politicians flatter their supporters. They praise them, tell them how patriotic they are. How strong they are. How right and good they are. The politicians don’t promise to bribe people with free handouts because that would make people feel guilty. No, the false prophets preach that we have earned our handouts. We deserve them. We have a right to government assistance. When was the last time a politician spoke honestly about sacrifice and service? I mean genuine sacrifice, not the kind of sacrifice that boils down to a tax increase for somebody else’s tax bracket. I mean genuine service, not the kind of service that comes with a salary and education benefits.
No, we don’t get hard truths. We get soft lies. And so Americans listen to the candidates speak words that drip like honey as they tell us how noble and enlightened we are, and how strong the spirit of this nation is. Well let me tell you something: if the American spirit of independence, self-reliance, liberty and integrity were actually alive then none of the worm-tongues would be in office.
We have no one but ourselves to blame. If you don’t like who sits in office, vote for someone else. If you don’t like the alternatives at the general election, vote in the primary. If you don’t like the alternatives in the primary, make your voice heard in the GOP and tell them to get their heads screwed on straight and put up some legit candidates. And – all else failing – run for the damn office yourself. Isn’t that the point of being an American?
It’s time for more Americans of principle to get back into politics. Of course we don’t want to. If we liked politics we wouldn’t be Americans of principle. But some generations have to go to war and fight and bleed and die for liberty, and other generations have to hold their noses and take out the trash for liberty. It’s not as glorious, but on the bright side you don’t generally die from it.
So go ahead and pinch your nose, breathe through your mouth, and let’s get to work cleaning out the filth before the nation drowns in it.
Robert Wallace is classical liberal studying economics in graduate school. He and his wife work as business analysis consultants, and they live as undercover conservatives with their two small children in a socialist bastion of a college town. He has been writing for America’s Right since December 2008.