Over the past several years, I have become fairly jaded where it comes to politics. It seems that the only way anything gets done in Washington is when a president signs an executive action for one of his pet projects.
Congress is totally constipated and issues no decent legislation, always voting along party lines. I have come to the point I hate Republicans and Democrats and how they now operate. We have mid-term elections next year in November, and I have come to the point I think that if voting really mattered, they wouldn’t let you do it.
Several years ago, I had a long conversation with my congressman, Gary Condit. I had known Gary since he was the 18-year-old mayor of Ceres, Calif. From there, he was elected to the county board then to state legislature and then to Congress.
He was of the opinion that at the local level, you could make a difference as a mayor or on the county board. It became more difficult at the state level and almost impossible at the federal level.
He was a conservative Democrat and voted against more Clinton legislation than any other Democrat. He was a member of what they called the “gang of five” who were five democrats that tried, by making deals with Republicans, to unseat Willie Brown as speaker of the house in California.
We like to think we have a representative in Washington that represents us, his constituents. I have come to believe we have about 10 party bosses in each party that actually run the whole deal.
Before a congressman is elected and arrives in Washington, he is told how it will be. He will vote the way the party bosses tell him. If he balks, they see to it he gets none of the PAC money billions they have collected from lobbyists and special interests.
This guarantees he will only serve one term and they will see to it in the next primaries he loses to someone that will fall in line. He also knows that any legislation he might introduce to benefit his constituents is doomed.
I once had a discussion with a lobbyist and asked how things worked. I asked if they discussed with a congressman or senator the legislation they wanted and asked the legislator to write a bill to get what they wanted?
He replied, “Oh no, you can’t let them write the bill, they would have it all fouled up. We write the bill and they give it to their staff who dot a few I’s and cross a few T’s and that is what is turned into law. You can’t let them write the bills. Of course it helps if a substantial donation is made to their campaign.”
I believe one of the reasons government is so wasteful is that large contributors demand something in return that benefits them, and if it benefits the taxpayer, that is purely incidental. Here’s how you get things like the billion dollar bridge to nowhere. A large contribution is made by a large firm. In return they receive a contract to build the project and make millions while costing the tax payers billions.
I think we need to limit contributions and take a look at PAC money. These things contribute to the condition where special interests run the country instead of the people. I fully expect the current administration to forgive Puerto Rico’s debt not to help the people on the island but to bail out the wall street firms that loaned them the money.
An integrity test for all politicians should be mandatory and passing the test a condition to run for election. This might slow down the spending of over a million dollars for charter flights to basically vacation or watch the solar eclipse.
On the bright side, I have total confidence in all our local elected officials. My next rant will probably be about something that won’t be fixed either.
Have a nice autumn.
Barrie Quallie is a Wallowa County-based columnist for the Chieftain.