Blame money, greed – not just partisanship

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, February 25, 2010

To the Editor:

I share the frustration voiced in recent editorials and letters concerning the inability of our elected representatives to address the needs and problems of our country in a timely and reasonable manner.&bsp; &bsp;

While these letters and public comments from many officials, like Sen. Evan Bayh, blame partisan ideology for the vitriol and gridlock, I believe that this is just a convenient cover for a much more systemic and destructive problem.

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The platforms and ideology of both parties do not influence politicians votes nearly as much as the money and perks that keep them in power.

Politicians of both parties would rather blame ideology than have us see that corporate campaign contributions and perks, such as the $2 million Evan Bayhs wife makes on health insurance corporate boards, are what really drive their votes.

Why else would we have seen such out-of-control spending, borrowing and growth in government during the Bush Administration when spending cuts and small government are at the heart of the GOP platform?

Why else would we see Health Care Reform, a major plank for the Democratic Party, stall in Congress when Democrats have a large majority in both houses? &bsp;

Officials seeking money for campaign contributions and for personal gain are what drowns out the voices of voters. Leaving a political party to become an unaffiliated voter does not stop these corrupting influences. In fact, it just eliminates one of the few levels of accountability. &bsp;

Public financing of campaigns and stricter lobbing laws are the only actions that will change things. Also, the Senate needs to change its rules so one senator or the minority can not stop the work of the majority. That is not democracy in action.

Both political parties have contributed to our governing problems, but they are not the root cause. Just dropping out of the two-party system will do nothing to address the corrupting influence of money and will likely enhance the problems of candidate recruitment, voter apathy and misinformation we often see in non-partisan municipal elections.

Just firing current office holders without changing the rules will only get us more of the same.

That is one reason the Polk County Democratic Party Executive Committee recently passed a resolution supporting higher ethical standards and gift bans for elected officials. We are asking tougher questions and asking for more accountability from our elected officials and candidates; something unaffiliated candidates will not have to go through.

One of my Republican neighbors and I often have good political discussions over his fence. He once asked me, Why do you work so hard for the Democratic Party when we know both parties are corrupt? I responded, I am working hard to change my party from within. You should do the same for yours.&bsp; He agreed.

Margaret Johnson