Politicians cater to power, not citizens

August 19, 2008 03:17 pm

While we endure the “dog days” of August in our air conditioned homes and vehicles, I sometimes think back to our Continental Congress who endured the hot, humid stuffiness of five months to hammer out our Constitution and Bill of Rights at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. It brings a literal meaning to the term “heated arguments” when you consider how uncomfortable they must have been long before the days of air conditioning.

We tend to think that our freedoms were secured by the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July in 1776. Not so. The newly founded colonies had to fight a long, bloody war before they finally met and adopted our form of government 11 years later on Sept. 17, 1787.

However, the most notable and significant phrase appeared in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence, which was: “Governments must derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Oh how I wish today’s politicians would use that directive from our founding fathers as their obligation to the voters who elected them.

Actually, the authors of our Constitution envisioned our representatives in Congress to be private citizens from the electorate to run for office, but only serve one or two terms and return to their occupations so they would have to live under the laws they helped to pass. In other words — citizen legislators.

That may have been the way it started out, but that’s not what we have today, either at the federal level or in our state legislators. What we have now are career politicians, too many of whom are lawyers, who want to become permanent power brokers whose main goal is to get re-elected. They become like tenured college professors who can never be fired, so they stay in Congress until their seniority enables them to achieve the chairmanships of their committees to further enhance their hold on power.

A classic example of the abuse of power is Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who refuses to allow a vote on oil drilling, saying “I will not give up my gavel to anyone!” She knows she will lose if the issue comes to a vote, but none of that matters to her as she is not interested in the words of our founders.

As speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi’s duties should go beyond partisan politics or just representing the weirdness of her San Francisco constituents. Her primary obligation should be what’s best for the good of our country and not just how to retain the power of her office.

But that’s what we get when we continue to elect career politicians who get so caught up in the elite culture of Washington, D.C., politics that they no longer pay attention to the words of wisdom that our founding fathers intended to be the guidelines for a government “Of the People.”