Are career politicians the problem?


One think I enjoy doing in debating.  Politics, sports, food, anything really is fair game for a debate in my book.  This weekend as I had another “discussion” on Facebook, whose views are often at the other end of the spectrum, we had a rare moment of having something in common. Term Limits.  As we went back and forth about over two days and a range of topics from size of government, racist history of political parties, government programs versus private sector programs we had nothing in common.  Which is not unusual.  That all changed though when we got on the topic of politicians representing this country correctly.

One of my big issues with politicians, is that today’s political leaders seemed to have forgotten the most important piece about governing the country.  That they represent the people who voted them in and not their own self interests. Nothing seems to happen in Washington these days, because a line has been drawn in the sand and neither party is willing to cross that line to get anything done.  They seem to have forgotten history, where people could reach across the aisle and do what is right for the country. Republicans like to tout Ronald Reagan, but seem to forget that he publicly admitted the need to compromise for the good of the country.

Why has this become a problem? There could be many reasons, but to me a glaring issue is career politicians. Without term limits, elected officials with standing virtually have a career locked down.  So much about election success is name recognition and fundraising. Current Congressperson and Senators have the name recognition when it comes to ballot days.  Also, because they have already worked with the various industries on a many different pieces of legislation, they also will have the inside track on fundraising.  This makes it nearly impossible for challengers to be successful at the polls.  Career politicians have become comfortable, the position is no longer about representing the people, instead it has become about their own self interests.

To me the solution to this is term limits.  We need people in office who will always represent the interest of the people, and eliminating career politicians is a clear solution to me.  Surprisingly enough, it was also a solution of my conservative friend. Will politicians ever go for it, no.  But if enough of us from all political view points can begin pushing this, at some point they will have to listen. However, if we continue to be afraid to speak up, because we fear debate or open discussion about real solutions to our problems nothing will change.

When we open ourselves up to debate and discussion, we will be surprised at how much we can agree on ways to change the system for the better.

Race in Politics Not Headed in the Right Direction


There has always been a racial component to politics in this country.  Even after the Civil Rights Movement, this racial dynamic was clearly up for display.  As time wore on though, and more minorities became involved and elected in politics, that dynamic has shifted from obvious to a more underlying position.  Since the election cycle of 2008 that has all changed, and not just in Washington.  Ever since Obama was a candidate, that racial dynamic has once again begun to shift from underlying towards obvious.  During his campaign, it was widely discussed whether a black man could become president.  There were groups of people who would not vote for him simply because he was black.

It continued after the election and still continues with the rise in white supremacy groups.  But it is deeper than that.  As the mission of the republican party has become to not let  him succeed at all cost, the racial dynamic has moved from white supremacy groups to the halls of congress.  Even if they will not come out and say it, there has been a racial component to their strategy.  The questions of his birth certificate, the outright brashness of calling him a liar, interrupting the state of the union, and more recently the use of “tar baby” are unprecedented attacks on a president.  No president in history has faced the same kind of treatment from the halls of congress.  The rise of the tea party has not helped that dynamic either.  The racial atmosphere that appeared at tea party rallies during the health care debate was troubling.  Despite the rise of Herman Cain as a tea party candidate, you cannot deny the racial component to that movement.

Let’s take it one step further.  The attack on both a federal and state level on programs that are designed to help the poor, is also ripe with racism.  A disproportional amount of people who receive government assistance are minorities, and the disregard our elected officials have towards them is disturbing.  It is continues to bleed down to the lower levels of government as well.  The North Carolina State Legislature has been attacking policy like the Racial Justice Act, and early childhood for poor and at risk children.  If we take one step further, we can look at the Wake County School issue.  Regardless of how you feel about busing and socioeconomic diverse schools, the root of why people wanted to policy to change was a new approach to nimbyism.  A certain subset of people no longer wanted poor kids to be sent to the schools in their neighborhood.  Let them go to school where they live is written all over this, whether they want to admit it or not.

Many people wrongfully thought that the election of Obama pushed America into a post racial society. I would argue that it has done the opposite.  That election has had an impact on the racial dynamic of this country, but not for the better.  What it has done is moving racism back to the forefront.