Paul Jacob

The sun is shining. The corn is growing in Iowa; there's rice in Arkansas; Idaho soil is preparing to offer up plenty of spuds. And in hot and muggy Washington, D.C., we can expect another bumper crop of hypocrisy.

Much of the hypocrisy in Washington politics involves partisanship. It appears that ideas don't matter nearly as much as whether there is an R or a D stitched onto the chest of the idea's advocate.

Partisanship is winning out: Politics has become a football game with a blue team and a red team competing for all the prizes of power and money. The goal is to win the game by staying in office and by getting or keeping your team in the majority ? so you as a congressman get the bigger and better slice of perks, pork, privileges, and power.

That's much different than the body of citizen representatives our Founders envisioned ? men who would act not as part of the factions so feared by Madison, but as an independent board of directors to run government according to the rules, the Constitution, and for the benefit of us all as shareholders.

But our Founders' dreams are not today's reality. This can be seen in the reckless disregard for principle, and in the routine trivialization of ideas. The issues that so animate the citizenry have become mere objects to be used to win the game by the partisan professional politicians populating the nation's capitol.

I can't help but wonder: If Bill Clinton were now president, and not George W. Bush, would congresspeople simply trade talking-point memos and restart the argument on opposite sides? Even on issues of war and peace?

Notice what really makes the Washington politicians hopping mad. Not the issues of life and death ? oh, no. Just last week, Democrats held a temper tantrum ? that is, "news conference" ? about the kind of issue they do indeed care deeply about: the rules Republicans are using to vote on legislation in the House of Representatives.

Democrats take offense at the Republican leadership extending the voting period on bills. GOP leaders pull this maneuver whenever they need to twist some arms to win. When a vote isn't going their way, leaders corner members of Congress to offer ? or threaten to take away ? pork and campaign cash until the recalcitrants change their votes. The vote closes only when the requisite number of arms have been bent back far enough.


Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.
 



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