I used to love politics. Covered state and local government for 30 years. Covered a couple of national political conventions. Interviewed every governor of Georgia since George Busbee.
But I’m sick of politicians. The whole lot of ‘em. The Rs and the Ds. A recent Gallup poll says most Americans don’t trust the people in Washington. In fact, Congress’s public approval rating is dangerous close to single digits, which makes politicians even less popular than used-car salesmen and journalists.
Apparently, though, the politicians seem to be surprised. A columnist for The Washington Post went so far as to say the politicians admit they are at a loss for how to fix it.
Well, I’m not a Rhodes Scholar. I didn’t graduate summa cum anything from anywhere. But I’ve got a few common sense ideas for the folks in Washington. (Feel free to clip today’s column and mail it to your favorite politician.)
Stop lying. And by this I mean not just to us, but to yourselves. You can’t possibly believe half the stuff you say, especially since what you said today is in direct opposition to what you said last week. It’s all said to keep you in lock step with the other Rs or Ds, depending on your political persuasion. At best, it makes you look like a hypocrite. At worst, an outright liar.
Decide what you believe and stick to it. It stuns me to watch certain politicians defending lying and corruption today, even they were ready to hold hearings on the same behavior under the last administration. (And yes, I get it that the folks in the last administration that defended that behavior are today investigating. Like I said, if a certain behavior is wrong under one party, it’s wrong under the other party. Period. End of discussion.)
Realize that compromise isn’t a four-letter word. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your core principles. Compromise worked for the Founding Fathers. And more importantly, it works for the rest of us. Every day, we compromise with our spouses, with our co-workers, with our siblings, with our friends. The Founding Fathers compromised so much that one of their compromises is known in history at The Great Compromise. Get out of your entrenched corners and stop turning every issue before you into a red-state, blue-state fight.
Actually, you know, accomplish something. How long has it been since Congress took on an issue diligently and resolved it? Immigration? Archie Bunker used to joke about illegal immigration on “All in The Family.” That was in the 70’s. (For you math-challenged folk, that was 45 years ago.)
About the only major issue that did get approved was that tax cut. And it was passed through Congress so quickly that even its staunchest supporters admitted they didn’t read the full 2,000-page bill.
I like tax cuts as much as the next guy, but you have to admit that passing a law you haven’t read is ripe for unintended consequences that will come back to bite us all on the you-know-where.
Have healthy debate on subject. Don’t be afraid of dissenting opinions. Opinions can’t hurt you. Find common ground. And keep the American people in the loop.
Stop taking the voters for granted. During political campaigns, I hear politicians say things like, “I know I’ll get my votes, but to win, I’ll need to get a few of my opponent’s votes.”
Sorry, but they are not your votes. They are our votes. And one day, the American public is going to wake up and actually use their votes in the way the Founding Fathers intended and you may find yourself out of a cushy job.
End of sermon.