There are dual claims to good government, first, we need access to know what the selected “elected” are doing, and, second, we need to have the truth when they purport to tell us what they’re “really” doing.
The political class often fails miserably to conform with either of these two basic principles of transparency which is absolutely necessary so that we can decide whether we need to appear at hearings, to object to proposed policy initiatives, and to vote for our representatives.
While this applies to all government, we cannot ignore the fact that the entire U.S. House of Representatives is up for election this year, so we have an amazing opportunity to get answers while these candidates are the most vulnerable, namely, when they want our vote.
We must demand that every congressional candidate tell us what he’s going to do differently to make Congress work, lest we fail to ask, and are forced to watch another season of that too terrible, long-running, reality c-span tv show, “Government Inaction!”
We are on notice that things can get worse. We just had the inglorious electoral heave ho of the third highest ranking Republican leader in the nation, the former House Majority Leader, Virginia Congressmen, Eric Cantor. Eric lost his Republican primary to a political tyro who has never held office and never set any public policy. Personally, I would have been glad to see Eric go, but my enthusiasm for his departure is blunted given the reason for his going, that he believed compromise was necessary.
The most important question we must ask this year is, “What are you, an incumbent congressperson going to do differently to make congress work?”
The harsher question for the spanking new political novice, not a current member of congress, is, “What can you possibly do to break up these political food fights given your political impotency as a freshman member of Congress, assuming we elect you?”
Voters must not allow themselves to be bamboozled by this silly election season’s selected “wedge issues.” We must be wise to this manipulative political shell game, created to distract, so that we won’t ask about an array of other issues that really do matter, having to do with whether and how we educate, heal, employ, work, make peace or war, recover, pollute, treat, protect, tolerate, enforce, share, age with dignity, and govern openly.
Public enemy No. 1, out to derail good government, is a swelling activist sub-group of callous selfish voters, supported by anonymous donors, out to get theirs, and the rest of the community is of no great concern.
Our answers, the information we want, about the reforms we need, and who we’re electing, could be found more freely if we had a functioning freedom of information act but there are more than a hundred exceptions to disclosure under the act, and what information we may get from our government is all too often not received, received out of time, not understandable, expensive, and may require us to go to court to force complete disclosure.
If we ask the right questions, ignore the shell game, and do our homework this year, we may get better representation and have a government that serves us.
If we don’t ask the tough questions, allow the con, well, then we’ll have another sad season of that sudsy soap opera, “Government Inaction.”