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December 9, 2010

Political Reflection in the Wake

Patricia A. Kelly

It’s been said many times and many ways over the past month that the voters have spoken, but the question of what they really meant to say has yet to be answered.


Now that the holiday season is upon us, the time of goodwill toward all, our newly elected and newly un-elected officials would be well advised to take some time to reflect on this question. So would we, the voters and taxpayers.


In speaking recently with a centrist Democrat, he expressed his frustration with the extremist liberals within his party. He is committed to move his party more to the center, to responsiveness to their core, tax-paying constituency. He is considering changing parties if he can’t achieve this.


Perhaps, rather than quitting, he should consider creating the Democrats version of the Tea Party, because, in reality, the problem with government lies with both the right and the left.


The government, and those who are paying for it, has become completely disconnected. The government has taken on a life of its own, rolling downhill like a big snowball, continuously enlarging itself and creating laws, rules and entitlements all over the place without a bit of thought about who is paying the bill, or about whether the laws created follow the principles of a democratic society, whether the government is doing what individuals or local organizations should be doing.


Things have gotten so crazy that our government is printing documents in other languages, and mandating translation, rather than expecting immigrants to learn English. Our government won’t let many people in legally, but won’t allow us to even count anonymously the number of illegal immigrant students in our schools. San Francisco, Oakland and New Haven are offering I.D. cards to illegal immigrants so that they can access government benefits and “integrate into the community.” The Oakland ones don’t even have photos, height or weight on them. I guess that will save printing because people will be able to share them.


Our Founding Fathers created our government with a system of checks and balances for a reason. They knew government could get out of hand very easily. Unfortunately, our politicians have overcome the system, and spend their time following their own agendas, or snuffling after pork like French pigs searching for truffles. They appear to think a lot more about their colleagues than about their constituencies except when seeking votes.


These same Founding Fathers created a government indirectly of the people. They arranged for the people’s views to be tempered by leadership, such as, in the case of presidential elections, the Electoral College. For awhile I thought this process should be eliminated. After all, we can vote instantly for Dancing with the Stars, so why not the president?


One answer is that we are a nation of unprincipled ignoramuses. Witness some Caucasian extremist conservatives and their anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-non-Christian prejudice. Witness the completely insane stories being passed around America on the Internet? Thank goodness these people don’t get to vote directly.


And thank goodness these people have gone into battle over politics, because, on the extreme left, there are people just as nutty, people who think money grows on trees, and that our government should be a candy and gift dispenser. These people think the rich, that is, the producers of businesses, goods and jobs, should fund all the give-always. They already pay a disproportionate share of taxes, and, if we tick them off enough, they can remove their money from this country.


The problem is that conservatives go to battle over gun rights, English as the official language, fewer government regulations; but they are unwilling to allow the same to others. Some are willing to impose Christian beliefs and values on others, to mandate their pro-life beliefs, to restrict perfectly legal construction such as the New York City mosque. Extremist Muslims appear to believe that they have the handle on righteousness, and are willing to deny me the right to emerge from my home without a head covering, or, at least, to consider me less moral than they if I do. They wish to restrict people living in America from living according to our culture.


All of this is wrong, and none of reflects the principles of the United States. If we can’t even be respectful of each other as individuals, how do we expect to guide the government to reflect majority values, majority contributions and to develop a principled society when we‘re spending all our time being more right than the person next door?


We who work need to get the inclusion concept that the United States stands for, stop trying to look better than the guy next door, and take our government in hand. We need to remind them of who is paying, take them by the shirt fronts, and demand accountability, transparency and reasonable spending habits. They, our leaders, need to get that they are going to be held accountable by their employers – us.


If we don’t get respectful of each other, and don’t stop trying to impose our ways on others when we should all be monitoring the government together, then maybe we deserve what we’ve gotten.


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