Alex Brandon, AP
In 1906, Theodore Roosevelt noted that "a fierce discontent" was gripping the country. Politics had become the source of great agitation and malice, having become a rich industry ignoring the needs of everyday citizens. Sadly, that discontent exists in our body politic today.
The politics of influence, an economy of favors, serves to enrich those who least need help. The silent majority of average citizens who see politics as corrupt have lost trust in our leaders and in democracy itself. Strength of character and the courage to lead has given way to a form of moralistic/financial gerrymandering, which has robbed the country of its voice and its collective will to work toward a better day.
We, as a nation, no longer talk to one another; we simply talk past one another, opting for the easy path of speaking to those who mimic our thoughts. This is not how a nation moves forward, nor is how a nation builds consensus and long-term prosperity. Our political system has become stagnant for many Americans, as have their incomes. For most Americans, a continuing jobs crisis, underemployment, low pay, runaway college debt and the palpable distrust in our political system ultimately refer to the failure of our democracy to represent the broad middle class.
While there are many causes for this morass, one in particular is the constant campaign for election or re-election. The need to raise massive amounts of money to run for office should be warning us that our election process turns legislators into panhandlers. The end result is an ideological circus bent on extremism and profiteering. Money distorts the process and devalues the role of the vote by ignoring any discussion on real issues that concern most middle class Americans.
Democracy historically rested on organizations, such as unions and civic groups, which helped voters understand what was at stake in policy debates. Contemporarily, these civic groups are dead or dying. Education on middle class, pocketbook issues now rests on an ideologically constructed, often hyperbolic, media saddled with their own self-interests.
Given the fall of civic organizations, and the influence peddling by moneyed interests, disaffection and distrust of government has flourished. An effective congressional race can cost upward of $1 million, silencing the middle class even more. Politics now speak only for those whose money screams the loudest. Government, once the bulwark to tyranny, now serves as a publicly paid lobbyist for corporations. The result being that the defense for the middle and working classes has crumbled.
Now is not the time for the idle hands of apathy or resignation — nor is it the time of lapel pin patriotism and bumper sticker politics. We must rededicate ourselves to the principles of decency and fairness.
The invisible hand is not supposed to be the weight of government subsidies, nor is it the back-room peddling of campaign gifts. The American Dream was never supposed to be a hedge fund. The "welfare moms" of Reagan have been replaced by the Wall Street financiers and corporate CEOs who have leveraged long-term prosperity for short-term gain while they ensured their bonuses, knowing full well that government oversight had turned a blind eye.
There is no doubt that campaign finance reform is essential and long overdue. That reform is one that neither of the dominant political parties is capable of.
Charles Kimball is an independent candidate for Utah's 2nd Congressional District.
- Facts about the Boy Scouts of America
- My view: MMR vaccine caused my son's autism
- White House press corps has been turned into...
- Commentary claims liberals are shocked by...
- Michael Gerson: Common Core standards are not...
- Dan Liljenquist: IRS scandal is an assault on...
- George F. Will: Obama takes a page from...
- In our opinion: Utah's caucus system needs...
- Letters: No welfare, ever 78
- Letters: Move to the center 37
- My view: Why moderates lost the caucus... 33
- Tolerance and the same-sex marriage debate 33
- Dan Liljenquist: IRS scandal is an... 32
- Richard Davis: Abortion laws should... 29
- Letters: Dismantle IRS 25
- Robert J. Samuelson: Can Americans stem... 21