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Plenty of reasons why Americans love to hate politicians

Published January 14. 2012 09:01AM

Dear Editor:

One thing you almost have to respect about the Republicans: They have no shame about using their power to bludgeon opponents into submission. Using their right-wing radio and TV attack henchmen to broadcast their positions, they have been extraordinarily effective in creating a united bloc.

War Criminals: The previous administration are clearly guilty of numerous impeachable offenses. They have repeatedly violated the Constitution. They have transgressed national and international law. They have lied to the American people time after time. Their conduct and their barbaric policies have reduced our beloved country to a historic low in the eyes of people around the world. These are truly "high crimes and misdemeanors," to use the constitutional standard.

We have the right to vote. People have died to protect that right. But half or more of us stay home during important elections. We reveal amazing ignorance about the issues, the candidates, even the structure of government.

Who represents you in Congress? And is he or she Democrat or Republican? What's his or her stand on abortion, gun control, trade with communist China, taxes ...? You'd be surprised at how many Americans haven't a clue to the answers to questions like these. These people make the laws that define our lives, and they decide how to spend the money collected by a confiscatory tax system.

Well, we're not entirely to blame for this sad state of the union. Politicians have come close to making themselves obsolete in American life. They're below the radar screen, as far as many voters are concerned. They are looked upon as charlatans, thieves, liars and exploiters. The most harmless of them are simple clowns.

Right there, very simply, is why the American people do not like politicians. Regular folks have seen enough to suspect that many elected officials fight their way to win public office for two reasons: either to enrich themselves off the public trough or to bask arrogantly in the power and glory of the statehouse or Capitol Hill.

You don't hear that "public servants" are widely admired or cheered for a commitment to improving the country and their constituents' daily lives. A deep cynicism has descended upon the American people. We believe that too many politicians are self-centered crooks. This cynicism, in the long run, is very dangerous for the ideals that led to the founding of the nation in 1776.

"Political decisions are clearly weighted and influenced by who has contributed to the candidates. The price that the public pays for this process, whether it's in subsidies, taxes, or appropriations, is quite high."

Of course, not every politician focuses on the money, and no party has a monopoly on the bad guys. Still, there is enough muck to taint the whole bunch. No wonder that the breeze off the Potomac River has such an unpleasant smell. There's always been a certain level of corruption in American politics, of course. So political shenanigans and demagoguery are nothing new.

What is new is the staggering hypocrisy and boldness of some elected officials today. They and their spinmeisters turn the truth into an appalling game of "parse the sentence."

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even when there is no river." I could list hundreds of examples of political hypocrisy. But you already know that many of our elected officials and their spinmeisters are corrupt phonies.

American politics have evolved into a position of entitlement, and we've let it happen! Today many politicians are "lifers." And why not? It can be a very sweet deal. Expenses are covered, the salary is six figures (and can be raised just by voting an increase), you get all kinds of vacation time, many trips to exotic places are free because they're "fact-finding," and a busy staff is there to keep you from being hassled by such ordinary needs as fetching your own lunch.

Some politicians are chasing fame, some take advantage of power hungry women (and men) who deliver sexual favors, and some amass wealth in a variety of ways by using the contacts they make while in office. If they lose an election, they might make millions by becoming lobbyists, since they know from inside how the system works. And the voters? Many times your needs are not even visible on the radar screen.

The Disappearing Pensions: and the people who made that possible - are members of Congress - will continue to receive the best pensions of all - label this pension chaos.

The rulemakes in Washington and the dealmakers on Wall Street have changed the rules of the game to favor the privileged, the powerful, and the influential - at the expense of everyone else.

Today the politicians don't count individuals because elections are won by voting blocs. If you can get labor to like you, you'll get a lot of votes. In certain parts of the country, pander to the right wing and your campaign will prosper. When more than half the eligible voters stay home on election day, blocs rule!

To be fair, there are some politicians out there who are sincerely interested in helping people. But how can you tell? Sincerity is such an easy thing to fake.

If you do care about the nonsense, what can you do? Well, you have to pay attention to what's going on at all levels of government, and you have to speak up. Make time to fight a guerrilla war against dishonesty, sleaziness and incompetence.

Despite the decline in political leadership, however, I continue to believe that their is no greater country than America. But it was ordinary Americans who overcame tremendous hardships to make the United States the most powerful and well respected nation on earth. If only our politicians reflected the courage and self-sacrifice displayed by our military throughout the twentieth century, we'd really have something.

Unfortunately something happens to many of those who achieve great power. Sometimes a president will put his own desire for power above the well-being of the country. Truth be told, we will never know the true extent of the unprincipled dealing behind the elections of our most powerful politicians. Yes, we need campaign reform in America, but not just in the finance area.

Why not a law against lying in any campaign advertisement or literature? If a candidate puts out something that he or she knows to be false. then prosecution should follow in a federal court.

Why not have the FBI establish an election unit to see that campaigns are kept honest both financially and editorially? Too many crooks have bought their way into office. This has got to change. Since the bastards won't police themselves (after all, who is pure enough to cast the first stone?), we should demand that law enforcement police them.

I've found out that any remark I make about religion is likely to make some persons mad, but it makes me queasy to see politicians use God and Religion to lure votes. I'll simply say - Politics and Religion do not mix: "Politics has slain its thousands, but religion has slain its tens of thousands."

Many big-time politicians rake in big bucks after they leave office. I don't begrudge politicians their books or paid lectures. But sucking dollars out of powerful corporations when they've left office sends a terrible message of possible collusion and influence buying. Washington is filled with ex-pols making big dollars off people for whom they rendered favors while in office. There's not a law on the books to halt this revolving door. It's flat-out wrong.

Strangely, many Americans aren't outraged by the money bit. Why? Because all they care about is the ideology of their elected officials. If the politician echoes their beliefs about abortion or welfare, gun control, gay rights, same sex marriage, or the environment, that's all that matters to them.

Finally, we should examine the person first, then scrutinize the platform. Don't let ideology blind you to the scams. America desperately needs good, honest people in office, not poll-driven, ruthless automatons who change their positions with the seasons. Read my lips: "These people will say anything." Look closely at the person, and be skeptical about the rhetoric.

To ALL politicians: "We the people - can only hope you will act in every instance from a conscientious desire to do what is right, constitutional, within the law, and for the very best interests of the whole people."


Joseph L. Koperna

Tamaqua, Pa.

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