We blame the politicians but we put them there
By Frank Salvato
With the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 (S1639) now stalled – permanently, we hope – at the debate stage in the US Senate, we can come away with one lesson learned from this course of events, an unsettling number of politicians in Washington DC ignored the "baggage" that is their constituency. In light of this undeniable truth, it is understandable that outraged Americans would be looking to the section of the Declaration of Independence that talked about dissolving government. But when one takes a break from pointing fingers – and perhaps raising some toward their elected officials – it would be wise to remember who allowed this to happen.
Let me be perfectly clear, I am not about to apologize for the actions of those who have betrayed their constituencies. In fact, I believe that any elected official who doesn't hold and respect the inclinations of his constituency in the highest regard should be removed from office. While the positions that elected officials hold need to have a degree of latitude when it comes to enacting the will of the people, it should never be the case that an elected official would be obliged to ignore or look down upon the positions of his constituents.
But the blame for getting to this pathetic and disturbing point simply doesn't lie – exclusively – with the creatures that dwell inside the beltway or in the State Houses. A major portion of the blame needs to lie with We the People. It lies with you and me.
Our politicians have become oblivious to their constitutional duty to their constituencies because we have become apathetic to the governmental process. That apathy has enabled them to take up positions and champion causes singularly important to them, positions that most often have little to do with the concerns of "the folks back home" and causes that serve only to bolster the likelihood of their return to power come the next election.
Free from the burden of any constitutional obligation to their constituents, politicians at every level of government and from all political parties are prone to developing enormous egos fed by the illusion of absolute power. Many times this illusion of absolute power corrupts and politicians find themselves indicted, convicted, jailed and drummed out of office, as well they should be. But most often these egotistically bloated public trough feeders navigate the political minefields avoiding corruption (or at least not being caught) while doing more to further their careers and egos than to serve those who elected them to office.
If you are reading a bit of vitriol into my writing today you are very perceptive. I am angry. I am angry at the arrogance of our elected class and I am angry at the apathetic, "I've got mine to hell with you" attitude of the electorate, especially among conservatives.
Several political issues have driven me to anger.
Of course, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 is right there at the top of the list. It is unconscionable that any elected official would have ignored the calls of their constituents on this matter, especially when every poll had every political demographic signaling overwhelming disapproval for the measure. Further, it is infuriating that the same elected officials who discarded the cares of those who elected them to office – in both the Legislative and Executive Branches – would have dared strike a condescending attitude toward those they were sent to Washington to represent.
Then there are the subjects of:
▪ The Fairness Doctrine – Essentially a politically motivated tool to silence the free expression of those who oppose political totalitarianism.
▪ Tax Reform & Social Security Reform – Two issues that are critically important to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for each and every American yet politically intimidating to the thin-skinned creatures of "Re-Election Land."
▪ Border Security – An issue that remains coupled with immigration reform strictly for political purposes and an issue that directly affects the welfare, safety and survival of the American people.
▪ The Global War on Islamofascist Aggression – A subject so deadly serious that the myriad politicians who continue to play politics with this issue (Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Durbin, John Murtha, John Kerry, Chuck Hagel, Rahm Emanuel, Ike Skelton and Dick Lugar to name but a few) should be labeled as traitors and treated as such.
But one local political event – an event with far reaching implications – involving two actions was the main mechanism for my anger.
I live in what was once the sixth most Republican county in the United States, DuPage County, Illinois. At one time the leaders of this county were the catalyst for successful elections that saw the Illinois GOP holding the Governor's Mansion and every one of the state constitutional offices. The Republicans had a majority in both houses of the legislature, the budget deficit was reversed from years of abuse, taxes were coming down and elected officials actually served their constituents.
Those days, sadly, are now in the past. Illinois is in competition with California, New York and Massachusetts for the title of, "Bluest State in America." Taxes are going through the roof and the politically correct have become the "gypsies in the palace."
And DuPage County, you ask? Well, we faithful conservatives here in DuPage County have been blind-sided, bluntly put, we have been kicked in the crotch.
You see, our former Republican county chairman here in DuPage County, Illinois Senator Kirk Dillard, who has casually referred to the organization that once won every state constitutional office for the GOP as "baggage," recently appeared in a campaign video for Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama. When queried about his stunningly unfaithful act he was unapologetic to those who elected him to represent their conservative ideology in the Illinois senate.
Let me say that again, the former Republican county chairman from what used to be one of the most powerful Republican counties in the nation was in a campaign video for a Democrat presidential frontrunner.
In fact, ABC Channel 7 News in Chicago reported:
"Dillard also said he isn't endorsing Obama 'at this juncture,' but he has not decided what he will do if McCain loses the Republican nomination and Obama ends up winning the Democratic race."
Meanwhile, a lifelong Republican Illinois State Representative, Paul Froehlich, has resigned as chairman of his Republican township organization to become a Democrat because it is more important to him to remain in office (his constituency demographic has gone Left) than it is to have any kind of loyalty to principles and ideology.
While these two "public servants" are ultimately responsible for their actions, it is we – their constituents – who elected them to office. The same can be said for the constituencies of Chuck Hagel, John Kyl, John McCain, Dick Lugar and the rest of those elected to office only to turn on those they were elected to represent. We did this.
Those elected officials who put their personal feelings and friendships above their duty to their constituents, who placed trust in them to uphold conservative ideologies, principles and values, are putting politics before government. Politics cannot be more important than government, ever, ever, ever! Yet today it is the status quo in Washington DC, in Springfield, Illinois, in DuPage County, Illinois, it is the status quo in Everytown, USA.
Some who I have corresponded with may suggest that there is a bit of hypocrisy to my position in that I have obliterated Reagan's 11th Commandment of not speaking ill of fellow Republicans in public. To that I respond paraphrasing the Great Communicator; I didn't leave them, they left me; I'm not bad-mouthing fellow Republicans, they have ceased being Republican.
They say all politics is local. Accepting that as true, the only way to liberate good government from the political creatures that now hold our government hostage is to both educate ourselves on the issues using facts so that we can engage our elected officials intelligently and supporting – financially and through advocacy – those organizations and new media outlets that are – and have been – providing us with the facts and resources to do so.
American conservatives have been expecting good government and accurate information on the cheap for far too long and now we are all paying the price for the prevailing sense of entitlement and apathy coursing through the veins of the conservative community.
Unless we start supporting – in earnest – the organizations that have diligently and consistently provided factual information and reliable resources, unless we educate ourselves and engage in our governmental process, our country will continue veering to the Left until we find ourselves living in a full-blown Socialist state.
If Americans – and especially American conservatives – continue to embrace the status quo then I guess the old adage is true, you get what you pay for...or at least, you get what you're too apathetic to change.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. His organization, Basics Project, is partnered in producing the first-ever national symposium series on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at email@example.com.