It’s Not Just Republicans who Need to be Turfed out

I wish I didn’t have to say this. I wish America had a genuine two-party system where you could choose the good guys and reject the bad guys. But, sadly, the rich and powerful have bought politicians in both parties. That makes the voters’ task much more difficult. But the fight must be fought. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

We will never know what goes on in the corridors of power, of course, but – thanks to a few diligent souls – we get a behind-the-scenes glimpse once in a while.

While the mainstream media are distracted by the hysteria surrounding implementation of the new health care law, a group calling itself Represent.us is focusing on the real threat to America. It’s a threat that is everywhere in the world apparently. I’ve seen reports listing it as the number-one impediment to Jamaica’s progress, for example.

I’m talking about corruption. Apparently, America is as infected by corruption as any Third World country. And it taints both major political parties.

Here’s what Represent.us had to say in an email I received this morning:

The U.S. House just passed a bill called H.R. 992 — the Swaps Regulatory Improvement Act — that was literally written by mega-bank lobbyists. It repeals the laws passed in 2010 to prevent another meltdown like the one that crashed our economy in 2008. The repeal was cosponsored by a former Goldman Sachs executive and passed with bipartisan support from some of the House’s largest recipients of Wall Street cash. It’s so appalling… so unbelievable… so blatantly corrupt… that you’ve got to see it to believe it:

The new legislation exempts derivatives from regulations designed to prevent the big banks from indulging in the kind of skullduggery that crashed the global economy a few years ago – the kind of skullduggery that good politicians like Elizabeth Warren battle so hard to root out.

The legislation is sponsored by Republican Randy Hultgren of Illinois and co-sponsored by Democrat Jim Himes of Connecticut (among others). Represent.us notes that “Himes is a former Goldman Sachs executive, and chief fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.”

I am happy to report that President Obama opposed the bill. I would be devastated if it turned out that he was one of the tainted Democrats. I believe that most Democrats are in it for the good of the country, while most Republicans are in it for their own good. (If you are a conservative, you probably believe the opposite is true. That’s why we need elections.)

Everybody who runs for office has to solicit campaign contributions of course.  And I am not so naïve as to believe this doesn’t influence the way they vote.

But I am confident that President Obama tries with all his might to walk the straight and narrow – as do others like Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, Sherrod Brown, Ms. Warren, John Lewis, Barbara Boxer,  Ed Markey, Jim Clyburn, Steny Hoyer, Diane Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi and Bill Nelson.  I would also add Kathy Castor, from the little I knew about her when she was in local politics and I was a Tampa Tribune reporter.

You probably noticed they’re all Democrats. I invite you to list the Republicans you think are in it for the good of the country and not for the money.

I’m ashamed to say that, while I recognized many of the senators, I scanned the 435 House members and recognized only a handful. Our district in Central Florida is represented by Republican Dennis Ross, whose claim to fame is membership in one of the area’s richest families. He seems too busy advancing the interests of his kith and kin to do much else. We didn’t even get to vote for a Democrat in 2012. Ross was unchallenged.

And when someone called me recently for advice on our city and county elections, I couldn’t even recall the candidates’ names. I had met the mayor of Lakeland, and he seemed like an OK guy, but I knew zilch about the others.

Obviously, I am derelict in my duty as a member of a democratic society, especially the kind in America. Here, political representatives are pretty much on their own, while in the British system (like that of my native Jamaica), politicians are obliged to support their party platform. In the American system, voters have a lot more homework to do.

Slacker that I am, I am still more involved in politics than most of the American electorate. Sandra and I even solicited votes for President Obama in 2012. We watch cable TV, read the local news and so on. Sandra even reads The Nation, which I consider above and beyond the call of duty.

For the American system to work properly, voters must examine candidates on their individual merit, not just vote by party affiliation.  And we can’t neglect primaries the way we do. We must take a leaf from the Tea Party playbook and make sure the folks representing our party actually are the kind of Americans we want in Congress.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Click for the Represent.us message.

Click for a list of US senators.

Click for House members.

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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