I don’t often use this space for political commentary, but a new election cycle is in full swing and though my hope for a better world is not invested in politics, I care deeply about governance in our society and the decline of quality in political leadership over the last fifty years. I am convinced that the great political battle of our time is not Republican versus Democrat, or liberal versus conservative, but the people versus a government industry that is ripe with corruption and who use every election to exploit the legitimate passions of the electorate to enhance the personal ambitions of the one percent. This industry is made up of a diabolical, symbiotic relationship between politicians, Wall Street bankers, media personalities, and lobbyists pursuing their own selfish ambitions for wealth and power.
And I’m not saying that there aren’t good, conscientious people working for the government who want what’s best for the country, I’m just saying their voices are drowned out by the human quest for money and power by those at the top. While many of them may have begun with a passion for the common good, it is almost impossible for humanity to fly so close to the power and money that collects in Washington without abandoning their principles to benefit themselves as every one else around them is doing.
I am not suggesting this is well-organized conspiracy of elites, but the simple fruit of hundreds of thousands of people doing what most people do every day, maximize their opportunities to make money and gain power for their own comfort and security. It’s called capitalism, doing what you can to better your own life. But when a certain class of government elites profit off the vast resources and power of the government, it is crony capitalism, a system contrived by the rich and powerful that undermines equal opportunity for everyone else. They spend the people’s money to buy votes and grant special favors to their friends while their own personal power and wealth grows.
Republican, Democratic, and Independent leadership are all in on the joke. They can posture for the cameras and feign great disagreement over core principles, but when the lights go off they all shake hands, make deals, and laugh at how easily the American people are duped by their game. That’s why no matter who is in power, the federal deficit grows along with the size of government itself. They delight in stalemate because they really don’t want to solve the problems that they use to divide the electorate. It’s those who go into government service with little equity come out remarkably wealthy and well-connected. They are well-paid actors creating a government of the wealthy, by the wealthy, for the wealthy. When will the electorate decide that enough is enough!
These politicians are not public servants, but parasites on the American dream, who quickly turn into lobbyists or pundits when their terms are up to leverage their power into even more wealth. Media personalities are not purveyors of truth, but players in a game that twist facts into their own power-building narrative. All are beholden to Wall Street bankers who take turns rotating into government jobs to write their own regulations and purchase the political influence they need.
If you don’t believe me, read the eye-opening books by Mark Leibovich that unmasks the illusion Washington culture tries so hard to keep secret: This Town and Citizens of the Green Room. Ask yourself why the wealthiest counties in the United States surround Washington, DC, when they produce nothing except an endless set of laws and regulations while lining their own pockets and why our government officials are more concerned about lavish parties than providing health care for our veterans. And if they can’t get such a noble mission right, why do we think they will succeed at lessor tasks.
If we’re serious about fixing it, it’s time we voted out the career politicians and elect a new class of citizen politicians, those who want to put the common good above partisan politics. They will spurn special interest money as tainted attempts to purchase influence. They will demand accountability from government workers instead of guarding their job security when they are corrupt or incompetent. They will not be career politicians, but men and women who have been successful in the private sector and who want to go to Washington not because they need the money or power, but because they want to broker solutions that will take government back for the people. And, they will go back to their homes and careers once their service has ended.
No, this is not in support of Donald Trump’s candidacy. While he does talk in refreshingly honest ways about political corruption and boasts about the politicians he has bought, he is part of the problem and has benefited for a long time from the corruption he now mocks. We need people with greater depth, graciousness and far less vitriol and ego.
Is it too much to hope that the ship of state can be turned from such dark waters? I don’t think so. If the we as citizens demanded more of our elected representatives they would have to respond. But it will take a lot of us caring enough to speak out, reject the status quo, and look for a different breed of politician.
At the very least we have to start laughing whenever our current politicians and bureaucrats refer to themselves “public servants”, because they only ones they are serving are themselves.