Remember the old movie “Sabrina”? The one where the chauffeur’s daughter wanted to marry out of her class, and her father told her, “There is a front seat and a rear seat and a window in between.”
My friends and faithful readers, that message is imperative in the context of this editorial. Our political system has bred an elected elitist class that rides in that rear seat and is disassociated from the ordinary people in spirit and actuality – it deems itself superior and above the law. U.S. government legislative branches are largely out of control. Public attention to reorient elected legislators is sorely needed. Can you say recall?
In our form of government, voters have rights to overturn elections of their own making. It is a tedious process and for good reason – to make it difficult so that a fickle electorate cannot make mischief. This recall process reverses election of a person for any reason, including dissatisfaction with the way they part their hair. But better recall reasons are dishonesty in public or personal persona, corruption for personal gain or failure to meet voters’ desires to define, enforce or implement policies of the electorate’s preference.
Recall is not an option for people appointed by an executive, but the elected executive is fair game for recall. Let me urge Americans to revisit and use this overlooked option of governance to recapture the national soul, to advocate for our country and to restore some semblance of governing realism and integrity. Look at your elected representatives and ask whether you want them doing what they do.
All this is brought to attention because legislative branches of government at many (state and federal) levels are currently rampant with corruption. You’ve read the newspaper articles over the past decades where bribery, graft, patronage abuse, embezzlement or kickbacks are commonplace in offices of elected people. Stevens, Rangel, Renzi, Ney, Doolittle and Jefferson are all outrageous thieves within the past year. Remember the House banking scandal where 450 member accounts were overdrawn without penalty but the Ethics Committee chastised only 26? Nothing happened.
Over 10% of the U.S. Congress is somehow now the subject of impropriety investigations of some type. What is it that you don’t understand? You are allowing America to become a third-world country like Somalia, Burma, Haiti or Sudan – the four most corrupt places on Earth according to a 2007 “corruption index” study. The U.S. is not among the best. The least-corrupt (in order) are: Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, Iceland, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada and Norway. Your country, America, is not the most corrupt on Earth, but it is not clean. Are you satisfied with this?
No, you cannot recall Geithner, Daschle, Holder, Killefer, Solis, Richardson or Sims as real or recommended appointees to offices in the Executive branch of government. But you can express outrage and objection to the office of the President and other elected federal officials. Six of the seven named above cheated on income tax.
Last year, the IRS audited about 1% of approximately 130 million American taxpayers and only 2,472 were convicted of violating tax laws. Of the entire nominated Cabinet officers in this new administration, these and more had an equivalent tax problem worthy and leading to conviction.
It does not have to be a tax problem to smell bad. Senator Dodd remains chairman of the Senate Finance Committee after he accepted a sweetheart loan from a subprime mortgage villain. Last spring, Speaker Pelosi specifically exempted Star Kist/Del Monte from paying minimum wages to employees (plus inserted $33 million in the new spending bill in tax-relief pork for this company, which is her big campaign contributor) while being the beneficial owner of $17 million in stock equity in that company. As one wag put it, “In Washington, the real scandal isn’t what’s illegal but what’s legal.” Leona Helmsley put it best saying, “Only the little people pay taxes.”
You do not have to tolerate corrupt politicians like former Governor Blagojevich (trying to sell a Senate seat), Sheila Dixon (mayor of Baltimore indicted for perjury and theft), Bill Clinton (a president who lied under oath), Richard Nixon (a president who lied under oath) or the hundreds or thousands more. It is not necessary for U.S. taxpayers to tolerate ruinous spending habits and accept what crooked politicians call “stimulus” or “investment.” Tell your elected representatives, “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” when you see these results and that you know what to do about it.
Please know that, like Sabrina’s father, you have a window into that back seat. You also have control of the vehicle in which we all ride. Get this straight: YOU are the driver. Exercise your rights to recall elected incompetence. IH