Friday, March 19, 2010

Tea Party To The Rescue?

A war that must be waged: Cleansing a corrupt system

By: Mike Krauss
Bucks County Courier Times

Americans do not need a poll to tell them that President Obama has lost the confidence of a lot of their fellow citizens - including many who voted for him - and that Congress is disliked almost to contempt.

How did this happen?

The unavoidable answer that Mr. Obama and Congress wish to avoid is that the Wall Street bailout appears to these same Americans as a wholesale sell out to unprecedented fraud and greed, and this has poisoned the well of public trust on which democratic government ultimately depends.

On account of this, the president has lost support for the initiative with which he is most closely identified - changes to health care. Mr. Obama is being punished for legitimizing that fraud and greed.

To be sure, there is a lot of confusion about the purposes, implementation, funding and impact of the health care legislation. It lacks the focus Mr. Obama promised and that, had he delivered, would have made the legislation more easily understood and perhaps more widely supported.

But the argument made most often now by proponents of the legislation is that Americans who oppose it have been hoodwinked - a nice way to say they are too stupid to know what is in their best interest.

Quite apart from the contempt for the people this expresses - which has not gone unnoticed - this argument intentionally avoids the reality: many Americans no longer trust Mr. Obama or the leaders of Congress in either party, and they are striking back.
But Republican leaders who think a defeat for Mr. Obama and the Democratic leaders of Congress is a victory for them are whistling in the wind. A plague on both their houses.

That seems to be the position of the Tea Partiers who, to the extent they have a prescription for the future of America, are united in a common disdain for a central government they no longer trust, and in fact seem to fear.

But the Tea Partiers are so far as unfocused as the health care legislation they oppose. The nearest they come to a policy - a direction - is a reverence for the Constitution and an implied argument that the biggest problem of the United States is an unconstitutional, over-reaching federal authority that threatens individual liberty.

But a reverence for the Constitution and individual liberty will not be enough to rescue the American people from the ongoing catastrophe of decades, which threatens individual liberty far more than federal authority.

The crowning achievement of the Constitution is not limited government. It is representative government. And the great catastrophe of America is not any policy of the federal government - health care, war, education or the rest - but rather that the process by which those policies are put forward and enacted is hopelessly corrupted and unrepresentative of the American people.

Some in the Tea Party recognize this and are examining the political process as never before, perhaps for the first time. They understand that political parties are the tools that the people of a democracy use to get their hands on the machinery of government. They are thinking about trying to get their hands on the GOP.

Good for them.

The social conservatives of the religious right pulled off the same trick in the 1980s. And if all that now happens is that the GOP ceases to be a party obsessed with claims to moral superiority, and becomes instead a party devoted to the politics of limited government, that is at least a step in the right direction.

But at the same time, the GOP is trying to figure out how to swallow the Tea Party. Which one is the cat and which one the canary is not yet clear.

If Tea Partiers want to rescue America, they need to focus not only on the short-term process of getting their members into the GOP at the level of precinct committee people - which they have correctly identified as the controlling if comatose authority of both political parties - but they must also focus on the laws that govern federal elections.

Specifically, there must be wholesale changes to both election law and federal campaign finance law, which together serve to protect incumbents and drive candidates of both parties into the waiting arms of the entrenched, mostly corporate interests who fund their campaigns, and then surround those elected with an army of their henchmen and lobbyists who dominate administrations and the legislative process.

People and candidates are important. But America's corrupted political process will go on electing corrupted officials and producing corrupted legislation until that process is refashioned to represent the broad majority of the American people - and not only the few who now control it.

This is the war which must be waged.

March 19, 2010 02:11 AM

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