A momentous event is now unfolding before our eyes: the adoption of the federal budget, or what I call the Puppet Show. For many years we were allowed to watch the Show as long as we sat quietly in our assigned seats. This year we will not sit quietly in our assigned seats, because we are not the problem. The problem is a political party system that has bankrupted our nation, both fiscally and morally.
Usually when you attend a theatrical event like the Puppet Show, you are provided a program so you can follow the plot. Years ago having a program was not so important as our education system taught citizens basic civics. Remember the theory that the Republic will only survive as long as we have an educated citizenry? But our education system is totally broken. Years ago we could look to a free and somewhat unbiased press to help us understand the Show. But that no longer exists either. It is up to us to make some sense of the Show we are watching.
Let's start with this reality. We, the people bear a great deal responsibility for the mess we are in. Quite frankly, the Show has been pretty boring to watch. Moreover, it seems like every year there is something more interesting to watch. Today for example, we watch angry people in the streets of Cairo, Tehran, Tripoli and Madison. So we stopped watching what was really important- what our elected officials were doing with our money - the pile of debt they were racking up. As long as the cast of characters didn't do something glaringly stupid, we went about our lives. After all, the entire cast had taken an oath to abide by the Constitution.
It has become apparent to many of us that this oath is being (and has for years been) ignored by our elected representatives. Just for example: since 1787 we have elected some ten thousand or so men and women to serve in the US House of Representatives. While many of them served us ably and well, a large number of them became addicted to the power and perks which made leaving office seem unbearable. Those who became addicted needed a gimmick to stay on the gravy train. Once they had a gimmick, they used our money to fund the gimmick and get themselves reelected. When there wasn't enough money, they borrowed money, or sat by and said nothing as the Federal Reserve printed more. As long as the number of those addicted stayed low, we could afford to feed their addiction. Now that number is upside down.
Congress is filled with mediocre, self-serving politicians who can't get reelected without a gimmick. We can no longer afford to feed their addiction. The nation teeters on the edge of bankruptcy because each gimmick has a constituency which is now addicted to the gimmick as well. Many politicians who created the gimmicks are long dead and gone, but the cost of getting them reelected over and over is still hanging around our neck like an anchor. The"budget debate" has disintegrated into name-calling and partisan bullying (Reid stating that Boehner is being "bossed around by a bunch of freshmen.") And the Republicans think we can limp along, two weeks at a time, cutting bits and pieces. Only 47 GOP congressmen are 100% committed to cutting spending, after all those big campaign promises. The Puppet Show has become another Horror Show.
Over the next few weeks we will look at the budget fiasco and how we, the people, can step in to take back our freedom. The important thing is to keep our eyes on the ball this year and not be distracted by events overseas. Here's an easy fix that will never happen: a one-sentence bill, requiring that the budget passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in 2008 shall apply to fiscal year 2011. Vote straight up, yea or nay. No amendments. But our politicians will never do what's right or easy.
Time to lean forward in the saddle, and keep the faith.
Tired of unresponsive "representatives" who do as they're told?
Governance is too important to leave in the hands of politicians. We need to hold our representatives feet to the fire. We must watch every bill, demand that they read it fully and listen to us. We must be relentless in our civic duty because we have been asleep too long.
- Bob McConnell
- Steamboat Springs, CO, United States
- I'm a conservative Republican who ran for Congress in Colorado's Third Congressional District in 2010. Though I lost the primary I gained an amazing insight into how politics works, and I met hundreds of wonderful, concerned citizens. Let's stay engaged in the mission. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and keep the faith.