October 09, 2006

Voters right to throw the bums out

"Throw the bums out" is a political solution often heard but seldom seen. Once elected, politicians who manage to stay out of prison have little to fear on Election Day, since incumbents are routinely returned to office in overwhelming numbers.

The November elections could, at long last, bring a different result. The majority of voters no longer approve of the direction the country is headed.

The rich have become the filthy rich while everyone else is working harder but falling farther behind. Housing costs have skyrocketed while household incomes have fallen over the past six years.

Insurance premiums and health care costs have driven many to live without adequate coverage and essential care.

The party in power has enacted massive tax breaks for big business and the wealthy, kicking more costs of government services down to the local level. The rising tide promised in "trickle-down" economics is a slow drip for most of us.

An ill-conceived and poorly-executed war in Iraq, based on false premises and financed with borrowed money (much of it from China), is claiming precious American lives, undermining our values and weakening our national security as it drains resources from domestic needs and adds to the financial burden of future generations.

After reaching all-time highs over the summer, fuel costs are falling just in time to influence the fall elections. One does not need a degree in political science to grasp the concept of timing, special interests and political payoffs. Corporate officers understand the laws of supply and demand, but they practice the laws of politics with equal vigor. They don't need a call from the White House to play hardball politics any more than Florida sugar interests needed a call from the governor's office to trash Jim Davis.

Many voters are convinced that our government is owned not by the people, but by an alliance of the rich and other special interests, including religious extremists whose goal is to use the power of government to impose their own personal and religious beliefs upon every American.

Obviously, if we keep electing the same people to office, we will get the same result. The Republican Party controls the administrative and legislative branches of government in both Tallahassee and Washington. At each level, they have created more problems than they have solved.

Republicans are now running scared, and deservedly so. The last thing they want is voters bringing them to account for their monumental failures, scandalous behaviors, and attempted cover-ups of crime and corruption.

As their fears of an informed electorate increase, the Republicans’ reliance on fear-mongering to mislead voters increases accordingly. To paraphrase FDR in his first Inaugural Address, the only thing they have to use is fear itself.

Scaring the voter may have worked in the 2002 and 2004 elections, but Americans should not be deceived again by the same tactic. We owe it to ourselves, our children and our country to study the issues and the candidates carefully, and then to vote.

Those who are happy with the status quo should vote for Republicans. Those who are dissatisfied should vote for someone else. And, if “someone else” won’t do a better job, we have the duty to throw the bums out again, and again, until we get it right.

As Thomas Jefferson stated more than 200 years ago, "Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government; ... whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights."


Guest editorial I wrote for Lakeland Free Press, Oct. 3, 2006.

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