A fundraising marketer phoned on behalf of the conservative coalition of the Republican party last weekend. Usually I hang up as politely as possible on phone solicitors, but I was curious as to what conservative Republican leaders were thinking, so I agreed to listen to a brief recorded message from Michael Reagan (the son of former President Ronald Reagan).
I was not impressed. The solicitor wanted me to answer a brief survey after the recording. The first question was along the lines of 'What is the most important issue facing the country today'? I was given several choices, including illegal immigration, health care, balancing the budget, and the war in Iraq.
In response, I asked "What if I think the most important issue facing our country today isn't in your list?" Naturally, they asked me what that would be.
"Honor. I think the most important issue right now is honor in our elected representatives -- that they do the right thing for the people."
"Oh yeah", the voice on the phone answered, "Honesty."
"NO. I said *honor*. I want our leaders to stop plundering our country as soon as they are in office. I want them to care about honor more than they care about manipulating my vote."
"Well, yes, they should be sincere," the voice replied again.
And that is where I lost it. I didn't even know how angry I've been for the past few years, but here was someone wanting me to donate to a political cause, and they had a list of things they thought their constituents cared about, and they couldn't even get the number one thing on the list right!
So I gave them my opinion, free of charge, free of hate language or cuss-words. Just my opinion. I told them that if I could find a politician with honor, I'd donate to them and not care which party they represented. I added that after voting Republican for forty years, I had changed my vote, and the party leadership could thank themselves for that, because their actions were the reason why.
I'm outraged about the abuse of the young pages in Congress, and the cover-up of that abuse at the highest levels of the party. There was a reason no one confronted the abuser: they didn't want to rock the political boat. They thought they needed that slime ball's cooperation.
What a terrific irony, that the very thing they sold their honor for was the thing that they lost when the story came out. They traded integrity for power, and they lost power.
I may be unrealistic to believe that our Senators and Representatives in Congress ought to be honorable men and women who do the right thing even when it is inconvenient, but I know I'm not alone in my feelings, because the last election was very punitive to the Republican party. Even though it was a Republican who blew the whistle, the fact that they had to go against their party leadership to do so was too large a factor to ignore.
"Well, that is old news" you say? I think if it is still rocking the political boat, still motivating people to withhold their support and money, then it is news that is about to become very interesting again, and soon.
The candidates for the next presidential election are jockeying for position and trying to raise money. McCain, that experienced realist, didn't even bother to go to CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) this month. He's read the writing on the wall, and he understands the voters.
We feel betrayed by the evidence of rampant cronyism and disillusioned by vital offices such as FEMA being handed out like political plums to the grossly under qualified. We the people are in visceral pain over the blatant influence peddling, even trying to turn the attorney generals offices into political footballs.
With a two party system, when both parties decide to abuse the powers of office, where do the people turn?
I envy the British and Australian people for having a parliamentary government, but I don't know if that would help us at this point. The quality of government will reflect the quality of those in leadership. Does the quality of those in leadership reflect the quality of the voters, of the country?
I dread the coming presidential elections more than any election in which I have cast my vote. I'm afraid that no matter who is elected, the trading of honor for power will continue.
I'm afraid that who is elected doesn't matter anymore. In a democracy, that is truly something to fear.