It’s not just the the swamp – it’s our fault, too, for sending the wrong people there

I note, with mingled approval and annoyance, this article in the Orlando Sentinel.  It was first published in 1984.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of 238 million – are directly, legally, morally and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Bank because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered but private central bank.

I exclude all of the special interest and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it.

No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Don’t you see now the con game that is played on the people by the politicians? Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall.

. . .

Just 545 Americans have fouled up this great nation.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 235 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted – by present facts – of incompetence and irresponsibility.

I can’t think of a single domestic problem, from an unfair tax code to defense overruns, that is not traceable directly to those people.

There’s more at the link.

I think the author’s making one mistake – one that lays the blame for Washington’s fecklessness at our door, as much as anyone else’s.  You see, the representatives and Senators – yes, and the President – in Washington are there because we put them there.  In some cases, we made wise choices.  In other cases, we made extremely poor ones.  Either way, they wouldn’t be there without our votes.

It’s too easy to blame Congress and the Senate for the mess we’re in.  We need to look in the mirror when we do that . . . because we’re just as much to blame as they are.  They reflect us, and our values – and, in the case of far too many of them, that’s a terrible judgment on their constituencies, and on our country.



  1. Yup.

    The system is broken. Bill Clinton's a rapist. His wife should be behind bars. John McCain should be in an old folks home. Maxine Waters should be doing whatever unemployable morons do. Trump should be doing TV shows and handling big business.

    Problem is, Pastor – guys like you won't step up and I don't blame you one little bit. Could a man – even with your integrity and background – manage to avoid being eaten in that swamp? I would bet that the second a man like that stepped in that nest of vipers, you would have any number of manufactured scandals and improprieties to deal with.

    It's no use trying to put out the flames when morons run hither and yon starting dumpster fires.

  2. Unfortunately, when we're only given two choices, and both of them are equally evil, we can't help but vote for evil. They've rigged the entry so that no one who isn't evil has any chance of being heard much less being elected. I really don't see any way to break through the system.

  3. I'm not a mind reader; I don't see how I could have known that my Congressman would promise to vote to repeal Obamacare over and over again and then not do it when there was an actual chance the repeal would pass, especially as he did vote to repeal it when there wasn't such a chance.

  4. Since the only ones getting on the ballots are likely scum backed by big money then the choice between bad and worse are what we are faced with.
    What kills me is that after proving themselves to be scum beyond the shadow of a doubt, they get reelected.
    Two cases in point, Mitch McConnell and McCain.
    Both of these guys should have been hucking vacuum cleaners door to door decades ago.

  5. I think that the problem is inherent in the system that finances the electoral system.

    If someone wants to run for office, they must raise and spend literally millions of dollars to get on the ballot and campaign. Now, correct me if I am wrong here but people and companies do not give you huge amount of cash out of the goodness of their heart. They expect, nay, demand, something for the cash.Hence, by the time anyone achieves election to a comparatively minor position in their county or state, then they are inevitably in the pockets of someone and propose or amend legislation to benefit their sponsors.

    Trump, from what I can gather, very largely funded his own campaign so is not in the pockets of the donors which presents several interesting perspectives:

    1) He does not need to answer to his donors and pass or bend legislation to benefit them
    2) He is not part of the swamp and does not need to have both trotters in the trough – he's a millionaire in his own right so can do what he wants
    3) Because of this he can work for the good of the country and those people that elected him, not the sponsors.

    As the Chinese say, we live in interesting times.

    Phil B

  6. Interesting points. We absolutely hold responsibiity for those votes we cast. Of this, there can be no doubt. That the people with the power to change things, the Congresscritters, have in many ways abdicated their responsibilities is also quite plain. And where they have not abdicated, they have misused those powers.


    There will always be people of low character. And, often enough, such persons will weasel their ways into power. I can think of no circumstance or occasion where such people *wouldn't* be drawn to the reins of power. They are the wrong people for the job. But, like as not, there always will be such people and they will often enough get into power.

    Therefore it behooves us to create a situation wherein the wrong people find it advantageous to do the right thing. Slimeball bottom-feeding scumbags or not, if we can prevail upon them to do the right thing, then things will be okay.

  7. Spent my entire life voting against, and ad hoc campaigning against, the weasels – only to see them get elected anyway.
    Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it; those who remember the past are dragged, kicking and screaming, into a repeat, by the majority that have forgotten it.

  8. The best thing about voting is that everyone has a choice. The worst thing about voting is that everyone has a choice. The best choices are negated by the worst choices, and greed is more of a concern than individual liberty.

  9. Don't blame me I have voted libertarian or none of the above for every candidate for the last 40 years and run for office twice.

  10. You in the US (like practically everyone else in the world) don't live in a democracy (regardless what the media tell us and you). The interest groups and elites more or less decide who you can choose from.
    If you can only choose between a criminal, cynical, corrupt former first lady and a bumbling, narcistic egomaniac with more money than sense then you are up shit creek without a paddle.

    Problem is, I don't see any way to fix such a system. I personally don't think that a democracy (even a real one) is the best political system. The best is a benevolent dictatorship with a competent dictator at the head. Good luck finding that though. And even if you find it, have even more fun watching it fail after the competent and benevolent dictator left the office (either through death or retirement) to his much less competent and/or benevolent successor.

  11. The late Tip O'Neal said it, and it's true. "All politics is local."

    You don't like John McCain or Mitch McConnell? Sorry, but unless you are a resident of Arizona or Kentucky, you don't have a say in their election or re-election. Don't like Maxine Waters or Nancy Pelosi? Sorry, but unless you move into their congressional district, you have no say.

    And Congress is not a united mind moving as one. They are 535 individuals doing their own thing. Some are good, some are bad. It's the way things have been set up since the founding. We may not always like it, but I don't want people from NYC, Chicago or San Francisco determining my representative. (…and I am 100% certain they don't want *me* determining theirs.)

  12. Paying taxes no matter what bad things government does is the American equivalent of obediently getting on the boxcars. Just organize millions of the disgruntled to stop obeying counterproductive laws. Bad government would end if bad government employees couldn't get their salaries paid by taxes.

  13. David Lang writes:

    @MadMcAl If people have been telling you that the US is a Democracy, they have been very wrong.

    The US was founded a a Republic, NOT a Democracy. The Founding Fathers were very deliberate in opting not to make it a Democracy.

    They deliberately balanced states against raw vote counts, to prevent states with lots of people from overwhelming states with few people. That is why we have both a House and a Senate, and why we have the Electoral College.

    Democracy doesn't scale. The vast majority of people don't have time to investigate every issue and be prepared to debate it and vote on it, let alone negotiate changes to it. That requires people who don't have to hold down a job at the same time so that they can concentrate on the job.

    Now,I am not saying that the current set of Representatives are doing a good job. I dislike what a lot of them are doing, but living in California, I have no real voice in electing anyone other than my congressman.

  14. @David Lang

    Definition of democracy

    plural democracies
    1 a :government by the people; especially :rule of the majority
    b :a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections
    2 :a political unit that has a democratic government
    3 capitalized :the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S.
    from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy —C. M. Roberts
    4 :the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
    5 :the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

    Definition of republic

    1 a (1) :a government having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is usually a president (2) :a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
    b (1) :a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law (2) :a political unit (such as a nation) having such a form of government
    c :a usually specified republican government of a political unit the French Fourth Republic
    2 :a body of persons freely engaged in a specified activity the republic of letters
    3 :a constituent political and territorial unit of the former nations of Czechoslovakia, the U.S.S.R., or Yugoslavia

    From Merriam Webster.

    In other words, Republic describes how the nation is organized, and democracy describes how the leaders are allegedly chosen.
    One of the really big problems that the US political system has (maybe THE big problem) is that all checks and balances depend on the idea that the majority of the people IN the system are honorable people. When it was designed, a man who broke his word, and lost his honor was no longer able to get elected. The day that the word of a man or woman became meaningless was the day that the US system crashed.

  15. The flip side of the coin is that more people know more about the functioning and malfunctioning of the government and associated crony interests than ever before. We are talking about it, thinking of ways to improve, organizing, applying pressure and changing things – little by little.

    We're in the middle of an information revolution thanks to the internet. Before computers and the internet we did not have the tools to collect and collate information and disseminate it on a broad public basis. We had no way to really know exactly what the powerful were up to. Now we have a much better idea, as well as proof. This is not a bad thing, as such, but it's a whole new set of circumstances for people to learn to absorb, handle and deal with. It requires a major shift in outlook and how we manage our affairs. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

    As a comparison, the last great information revolution that completely transformed society was Gutenberg's printing press. It broke the power of the church, started the Wars of Religion that ended with the Treaty of Westphalia, facilitated the rise of nation states, spread ideas of democracy and individual liberty, spurred scientific inquiry and the spread of learning and launched the Great Prosperity that the West has experienced ever since. It was absolutely gut wrenching, violent and completely transformative.

    I think we're at the beginning of another profoundly transformative period that could last generations. Exciting and terrible.

  16. I've been trying to get people in office that reflect my values and interests for most of my adult life.
    The vast majority betray us almost as soon as they get elected, and cling grimly to the position as long as they possibly can.
    Those that stay true serve a couple of terms, and then they're done.
    The establishment of the Republican Party strongly prefers the first group to the second, and isn't shy about spending millions to either aid the first group, or hamper the second. (Including all manner of deceit and dirty tricks I've never seen them use against a Democratic candidate.)

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