One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting the result to be different.
One might apply that definition to this year’s elections.
Every candidate at every level is running on a platform that somehow involves making things in government different. If the candidate promising to make things different is a challenger, that position makes perfect sense – that is why the person is running in the first place.
But when the incumbent starts talking about needing to be re-elected to do things differently, anyone with a modicum of common sense should respond with a chuckle. The incumbent is already in a position to make the changes everyone claims are necessary. Today. The fact that no one has actually made those changes is more an indictment of the voter than of the incumbent.
Because, in the American democratic Republic, the voters can opt to change their government every time they enter the ballot box. They just don’t exercise that option. Instead America’s voters send the same incumbents back to the halls of government over and over again, and then complain when the result of their electing the same old people is the same old thing.
Pennsylvania’s legislature is populated by individuals who have continued to occupy their seats of power while they were indicted for abusing the power that very seat provided. Some of those involved in the latest scandals are running for re-election — and will get votes.
The state of affairs in Congress is no better. One representative in Louisiana is currently under indictment for conspiracy, racketeering, bribery, honest services fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He is listed as one of 2008’s 20 “Most Corrupt” members of Congress by the watchdog organization, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, in their annual report. One would think that being named one of the most corrupt members of Congress would cause those so dishonored to either repudiate the charges or change their ways, but the members named in those lists know that their corrupt actions will not keep them from being re-elected by the voters. Indeed, most voters do not even know such lists exist.
And, if they do, they obviously don’t think it matters when they cast their votes in November.
Elected officials are used to angry constituents who shout, “You work for me!” at protests and rallies. But those officials actually ARE employees of the citizens who elect them. Like all employees, they will behave as well or as badly as their employers will allow. Like all employees, they receive a performance review, which in their case we call an election. And, like all employees, they can be fired.
The fact that they have not been removed for poor performance is more an indictment of the citizens who employ them than it is of them.
The American system is based on the citizen. The final responsibility for good government belongs to him – not to the legislature. It is the strength, and the weakness, of our Republic. Those who have abused their positions of trust are counting on his weakness and inattention.
It’s time to restore sanity to an electoral process run amok. In this election, let us resolve to give our employees in the legislatures of Harrisburg and Washington a true performance review, retaining those who have done the job entrusted to them, and firing those who have failed to do so. Let us make this the election in which America’s citizens defended her greatness with their votes.