July 2011

The politics of politics

By Galen Larson

Politics is a system of welfare devised by the people that need it the least on the premise that if elected they will do something for those that need it the most.

Contact me, write me, I would like to hear from you, say our elected officials. As a concerned, diligent constituent, I call, write and try my utmost to contact my congressperson or senator. Who answers the phone? An aide who has no way of remembering the information I impart.

When I ask if this conversation could be taped, the reply is always, “No, it’s against the rules.” What rules? Almost every business one calls nowadays with a complaint or question tells you that the conversation may be recorded.

So when an aide tells me it won’t be taped, I take this as a polite rebuff. “I really don’t want to hear from you” would be more to the point. Now, if I were a lobbyist, you can bet your ass that the message would be relayed post haste to said official and it wouldn’t be from memory.

And if my letter isn’t accompanied by a monetary donation, into File 13 it goes. As to e-mail, often the box is full or the message is just deleted, so that’s a waste of time as well.

Oh, the politicians do make a token effort to listen to us – on our dime, as is everything they do after being elected. They have “town meetings” and arrive in a flurry, usually late, to give the impression of how busy they are. They throw out a few stale jokes, then commence to tell us why they can’t get anything accomplished – it’s the other guy’s fault. Then a few questions and if they generate too much heat, it’s, “Got to keep on schedule,” and on to the next batch of dolts.

Is it any wonder we feel left out of our government? The corporate lobbyists do the influencing. Who speaks for us?

We have the Tea Party and the 9/12ers, but they don’t want government at all. “Smaller!” is their battle cry. There are 310 million people in this great nation but somehow we’re going to get by with a government that does nothing but pave roads and wage war?

“Get rid of the waste!” they say. Well, unfortunately there is a certain amount of waste inherent in any system, whether an internal-combustion engine, nature (like a tree that produces millions of seeds), or digestion. It will never be eliminated.

But back to our elected representatives. We send these people to Washington to work together, not to act like kids in a sand pile arguing about who gets the shovel and who gets the pail. But these charlatans stay in office thanks to the apathetic and politically ignorant public.

We vote the tie and the lie. “Term limits” we cry. Well, we have term limits, they’re called “informed voting.” Yet we spend more time watching our plumbers and asking them questions than we do our elected officials. (Of course, that’s partly because they can duck faster than a prairie dog with a gun aimed at it.)

Elections are like Super Bowls: People who haven’t been paying attention suddenly want to get involved. People vote even if all they know about the candidates is that one has a prettier wife or a slicker 30-second TV ad.

We constituents need campaign finance reform in the best way (we already have it in the worst way) but thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling that corporations are people, we aren’t likely to get it. Politicians spend millions one year to get elected and then they must immediately start to gather money for the next charade. We elect these people to assemble in our nation’s capital to do the nation’s business. How can they do the business of the nation and its people while endlessly raising money? There should be a limit on the time for airing campaign ads and the media should give each candidate on the ballot a certain amount of air time for free. Those air waves belong to the people.

If only those who call for term limits would get involved, informed and activated before and after elections, just maybe we would get our elected officials’ attention.

Galen Larson writes from Montezuma County, Colo.