All about ideas…

When liberals and conservatives converge….

with 2 comments

On the way to a New Year’s Day party, a friend and I began discussing Washington politics.

U.S. Capitol Building


Let me preface my statements by saying I live in a very conservative small town so I was totally unprepared for her comments. My friend is a small business owner who has seen her business – and her investments – decimated over the last two years. I expected her to rage against Obama and the rising budget deficits.

But she fooled me. Instead she condemned the inequities and self-serving deal making occurring in Congress. She postulated that if the special deals on health care to get Senate passage of the bill were not downright illegal, they were at the very least unethical.

While I’ve long held the opinion that Congressional members are more concerned with power, party-politics, and wealth seeking, I was unprepared for a long-time resident of a small-town conservative community to echo my so-called liberal views. Like I, she saw Congress – both aides of the aisle – as being corrupt and self-serving. When I stated that nothing would change until the citizenry voted in independents, she not only agreed but also added they needed to be devoid of party politics and corporate donations. What she saw was the public, whether on a national or state level, being bled to death by special interests, making politicians and bureaucrats rich while the public, whom these people are hired to serve, grow fiscally weaker.

A liberal blog (www.jontaplin.com) – with more than its fair share of intellectually brilliant conservative and libertarian commentators – is a favorite haunt of mine because of the diverse, but smart, opinions. During this last year especially arguments have raged on about the ineffectuality of the federal government to positively deal with problems facing the American public…and with the enormous levels of corruption, party-politics, egotism, and self-gratification that exists within the Beltway. While I expected from a politically astute community such as I meet on this blog to be angry and disenchanted and ready for major political change, I was not fully prepared for what I heard today from an average conservative small business owner.

When typical small business owners’ thinking converges with political junkies, something on the national scene is going on that astute politicians need to be aware of. Unfortunately, the politicians we have now in office are blithely unaware. Across this nation there is a rising revolt against party-first politics and political corruption which neither party chooses to acknowledge.

The result of the current voter outrage will undoubtedly be a increase in Republican seats after the next election, but over the long term more Independents, who are neither beholden to a party or a corporate master, will gain seats.

Engaging in politics should never be about becoming a multi-millionaire. When Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe left office, they were all deeply in debt. It took decades for them to pay off the debt accumulated while they held office. Now we have office holders going into office as middle-class citizens who leave office as multimillionaires, thanks to special interest deals and corporate-sponsored lobbying donations. While every politician states unequivocally that lobby donations do not effect his/her decisions, my firm belief – along with millions of other informed Americans – is that these politicians have sold their souls – and the American public – for the almighty dollar. To regain control of the political system, all elections must be funded by public, not by private, dollars. To regain a system that works for the people, rather than specials interests of any kind, not only does the system need to be publicly financed but also needs to be devoid of partisan-seeking political domination.

We need a system that works for the people, not just corporate interests. We need policy that looks into the future and says “what if” rather than advocating for the status quo or the past. The only immutable, beyond death and taxes, is change. Change happens in a dynamic world, and we political leaders who understand change and have the imagination to look towards the future to see and ask the “what if” question and seek answers that benefit American society as a whole.

We need people in office who are more concerned about the average business owner than about becoming rich. We need honesty and old-fashioned ethics and transparency at every level of business and political intersection in this country.

The so-called terrorist threat promulgated by out-of-work neo-con politicians or the military-industrial-congressional complex is not what average citizens fear. Their real fear is a political body that fails to provide an even playing field in every sense of the word and fails to look after the public’s interest as opposed to the lobbyist’s interests.

Americans, from every stripe, have a right to be angry. And when a small town, small business conservative and a big city liberal agree on what is wrong and what needs to be done to fix the political arena, you know that the country, as a whole, is solidifying against the current, corrupt system.

Strike up the band, folks, ’cause real change is coming – but it’s not what the politicos expected. Not unless “within the Beltway” politicos get a real whiff of what is happening in the hearts and minds of Americans all across the heartland of the US, from the Atlantic shores to the Pacific beaches. People are angry and they have a good right to be angry. When political systems fail to listen to the people, only two things occur: fascism or revolt. We’re seeing the results of an intransigent political system in Iran that refuses to listen to the people. Rather than change, the politicos chose to kill and brutalize the populace. In the US, the SOP (standard operating procedure) is to evoke fear. But even fear of an unknown, esoteric enemy no longer works for the average conservative, small business owner. What they fear is a Washington Beltway that is bought and paid for by big corporate interests and a totally corrupt political system.


Written by Valerie Curl

January 2, 2010 at 8:57 AM

2 Responses

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  1. What we need is a constitutional amendment that spells out conflict of interest for congress. If it’s a major donor, or enriches you, you cannot introduce legislation, and must abstain from voting. You also cannot collude with other members of congress to exchange favors to get legislation introduced on behalf of contributors.

    Of course K Street would find loop holes, but set the consequences high enough (censure the first time and the bill is invalidated, and you loose your seat on the second violation) and it would cut down a lot of Liebermaning.

    Dreaming, I know. Just like I dream of a check on all state initiative processes that requires a clear and sufficient funding source for every one that has a genuine funding impact. If a funding source is not stipulated, then all cost result in an automatic tax increase. No more unfunded mandates that pull from social services to pay for prisions for example.

    Ken Ballweg

    January 18, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    • The problem with a Constitutional amendment is that it requires a majority of states to ratify it. It would be much easier for Congress to pass a law requiring public financing of campaigns and to outlaw taking funds from lobbyists. However, not only will Congress never pass a law that takes money out of their pockets and political coffers, the Supreme Court would probably overturn it, saying it violates “free speech.”

      Valerie Curl

      January 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM

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