Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What have you done for ME, lately?

That's a question that too many of us are failing to ask our elected representatives, and it shows.

I was watching the new Robin Williams flick Man of the Year over the weekend, and I was surprised to see that the character Tom Dobbs actually touched on some real issues. As he points out, politicians love to bring up big issue debates, like gay marriage and abortion, because they use them as "weapons of mass distraction." (I also recently read a commentary by Lou Dobbs that made the same point. I don't think that the naming of the character was a coincidence.) These issues distract you from this nation's real issues. For example, how is you standard of living, lately? How is your health care? Do you think you are being paid fairly for the work that you do based on your company's profit margins? Do you feel safe-- not only from terrorists but from common criminals? Do you feel like you can keep up with inflation?

Then ask your senator, representative, mayor, governor, president, etc. this: Why haven't you done anything about it?

On the surface, it appears that they might be doing a little something. Energy policies, tax cuts, and Medicare legislation looks nice. But who is really behind it? Oil company executives are writing our energy policies. Drug companies are writing our Medicare legislation. Who's interests do you think they are interested in looking out for? Yours or theirs? And as both Dobbs pointed out, you will be lucky to hear a politician argue that lobbyists are bad for America.

How can a candidate be for alternate fuel sources when he is bought and paid for by oil companies? How can a candidate be for fair natural gas rates when he is a former utility lobbyist? Does it make sense that our politicians claim to be tough on national security, but hundreds are crossing our borders illegally every day with ease while American citizens returning from vacation are hassled over bringing back a grapefruit?

Democrats? Republicans? Both are guilty. And who is to blame? We are. I'm talking about the middle class. We don't vote. If we vote, we vote based on what the voter guide handed out at church said or that TV commercial or stubborn party affiliation. Chances are that if those going to the polls actually read their Sunday newspaper instead of just buying it for the coupons, they'd get angry enough to make a real difference.

I saw a sign on Chalkville-Mountain Road this weekend that said something like, "Improve Jefferson County. Vote Straight Republican." I had to laugh to keep from crying. What have the Republicans given us, really given us, in their ten years of control? They were supposed to be the party that restored integrity to Washington, but they've proven to be just as scandalous, if not more, than the Dems. But then, that's all Clinton's fault, I guess. That's what they keep telling me. Fox News kept putting that (D) right next to Mark Foley's name. My other beef is their conservative claim. Well, let's look at that for a moment. A conservative is all about smaller government and less spending. So far, what we've seen is more government snooping and spying and increased spending. That, to me, sounds like a liberal, but we won't call it that. We'll just call it "neoconservative" instead.

Oddly enough, those arguing for less spending and smaller government are those "liberal" Democrats. Alabama Democrats are an exception. I personally believe that Larry Langford and Sheila Smoot deserve to have their pictures next to the definition of "tax and spend liberal." Regardless, you'd be more likely to be struck by lightning than to find two Democrats who agree on the same things. I guess it's hard for the Republicans to accuse them of doing anything bad, though, because they have a tendency to not do anything-- at all. They are the biggest bunch of do-nothings you'll ever come across.

So where's the solution? Vote independently. Inform yourself as to what a candidate has done. Inform yourself as to what is really in legislation that was passed. Inform yourself as to who is paying for a campaign. Then ignore the (D) or (R) next to the candidate's name. Whenever possible, vote third party (as long as it isn't some nutjob), even if it is a write-in candidate. But the best thing you can do is vote, and vote informed. Maybe it will send a message to these guys that they are still accountable to the largest demographic in this country-- the working class.

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