Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Permanent Campaign

"There's only two things that stop things from getting done in Washington: Money and Politics."

Fact: the men and women who travel through the many checkpoints and, eventually, into the most coveted office space in America (the West Wing), have more power to bring real change to the world than most everyone else will in a lifetime. 

Question: Why don't they?

Each election year, you hear about "changing Washington" (or something similar) from each politician more than you can stand. And it never fails, just as every year MLB analysts will pick the Cubs to win the World Series, that people buy into this idea of "changing politics in Washington.

The Cubs haven't won a World Series in 100 years....and counting. 

My problem with all of this, is the voters. It's US. Don't blame the politicians. They are doing what they do best--getting elected. They hire political strategist like Barack Obama has loony-left connections. The politicians do their part, and the same thing the politicians have always done-- they promise this, they promise that, then they do what they want. Who's stopping them? We certainly aren't. Since when did the criteria for being President become who was getting the most media attention or who was most attractive? Elections need to wind back a few hundred years to a precedent set by our founding fathers. A man was elected not by wealth or family, but on personal merit. Can we say the same about today? In an age where a Presidential election is a race for who can get the most TV time or say the right things, where is the love for the issues?

Politicians never stop running for office. Thus, my title, the "Permanent Campaign." It seems governing, the very thing they were elected to do, has been pushed aside. In a battle to sway public opinion and beat the other side, political advisors have become equally as important as the Secretary of State or the National Security Advisor. Politics is always in the way. Let me prove it to you.

Imagine with me, for a moment, that President Obama, after working out and preparing for the day, strolls into the Oval Office refreshed with a blessing of 6 hours of sleep. His advisors tell him he's needed for an urgent issue. The administrations "money people" have been crunching numbers and found that the best way to get out of this economic crisis would be to cut taxes and stop his spending immediately and admit their mistake. What do you think President Obama would do? Cut taxes? Heck No!! There's an election in three years, are you nuts!? How's he going to win the democratic base after cutting taxes? Let's say the "money people" even manage to convince the President that this is the right thing to do. Then the political people come rushing in and tell him what a bad idea that would be. Then begin to rollout the electoral landslide (in the democratic convention) waiting for him in 2012. Thus, the President of the United states will pass on an opportunity to make lives better for hundreds and thousands of Americans but chooses to pass due to political reasons. You'd be surprised at how often this happens. 

But it's not just democrats. It's both sides of the aisle. In fact, it's ALL parts of the aisle. Everyone is guilty. President Bush, as good a job as I thought he did, had Karl Rove as one of his top advisors. I like Rove, but he's purely a political man, and really should have little to do with the day-to-day governing. Not only that, but many, even from inside the Bush White House, say Rove was as influential voice in the White House as any. The Bush White House, like many, had merits and faults. Sadly, one of those faults, was falling victim to the permanent campaign. 

It's constant campaigning that stop REAL change from coming to Washington. As gloom a post as this is, there is real hope. Real change can come to Washington. It doesn't start with electing one candidate or the other, or backing this idea or that one. It starts with YOU. And me. And anyone else who votes. We should be holding all of our elected officials accountable. Candidates shouldn't be worried about politics and campaigns, because if they do what's right, we (the educated citizenry of the United States) will commend them for it. If they do not, they will pay the consequences. The American people are intelligent, and probably more so than they are given credit for. Yet they are either ignorant or choose to ignore the permanent campaigning going on directly beneath their noses, making them as much at fault (if not more) than the people elected they complain about every day. 

Politics shouldn't be about beating the other guy or winning the next elections, but getting into Washington, humbling oneself and saying "What can I do?" Are you telling me the clowns that make up what is known as the US Congress should be dubbed "Public Servants." I'm skeptical. But I think we can change that. By simply doing 3 things, you actually can change politics as usual: a) be informed, b) get involved and voice your opinion by calling your representative and telling how you feel on key issues, and c) if you feel a candidate has fallen victim to the permanent campaign, do not re-elect him or support him. I don't care how flashy his TV ads are. 

Our politicians and the voters should strive to live out what JFK said in his speech: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." If that happens, I can promise the world will be a much better place. 

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