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Reforming the Ruling Class
by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 9/28/07

Although I find the study of politics to be fascinating, I wouldn’t be a politician for anything. The entire idea of begging for votes and money is repugnant to me. I know; it’s a dirty job but somebody’s got to do it. Just not me. The sacrifices in terms of loss of your own privacy and that of your family and having to subject yourself to media scrutiny and questions which are often either insulting or just plain idiotic are not worth it to me. Running for office is something I would run from.

I was persuaded once to seek election to a community college board of governors and, on another occasion, to apply to fill a school board vacancy. I was under the impression that a doctor of education degree plus undergraduate and graduate degrees in, respectively, education and management combined with over forty years of management experience would be persuasive to voters without the need to raise campaign funds. Silly me. School boards are, of course, more about politics and less about education. School board memberships have become primarily entry level positions for political careers

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Please believe me when I say that this is not sour grapes. I’d probably make a terrible politician anyway. I am naïve enough to believe that running an organization like the federal government, a state, a city or a school system requires business and management experience. You don’t normally acquire these skills serving in a city council, state legislature or the Congress. For that matter, I think that before one runs for president, one should first demonstrate ability to successfully run a state or major city. What have Senators Clinton or Obama, for example, ever run besides a senate subcommittee that makes them qualified to run the federal government?

Politics has fallen into disrepute in the United States. It didn’t really have far to fall because it was never very highly regarded. Americans have a built-in distrust of politicians and by and large it is richly deserved. Opinion polls repeatedly show that the public gives the president historic low approval and confidence ratings and the Congress even lower ones. Who can blame them? They make promises that they usually fail to keep and they seem powerless to deal with pressing problems like the illegal immigration mess, social security, medical insurance, our convoluted tax code and a nuclear-armed Iran.

It seems to me that politicians, particularly members of Congress and the legislatures, spend too little time trying to do the things that they were elected to do and far too much time posturing for reelection or for election to higher office and criticizing political opponents. Members of Congress spend much too much time criticizing the president, so much time in fact, that they get little else done of any enduring value while the problems just get worse. It’s easier, of course, to criticize the work of others than to actually do your own job.

But perhaps the biggest reason for the crisis of confidence in politicians is their behavior. Misbehavior, some of it criminal, is occurring with disturbing frequency at all levels of government demonstrating once again that power corrupts. And of all the professions, politics, probably the most despised, can least afford it. The legal docket on politicians lately would make an NFL or NBA player blush.  The growing list of scandals involving those in public office is a national disgrace and the list includes members of both major parties. The scandals include sexual encounters in public rest rooms , sex in the White House involving a president and an intern, members of Congress openly soliciting bribes and stashing cash in freezers just to mention a few. What is it with these guys? Are they so obsessed with their own power that they think they are above the law and can get away with anything?

Media representatives, Congressional staffers and campaign staffers search the backgrounds of candidates, desperately hoping to dig up some hint of scandal that can be used to utterly destroy someone’s reputation. Character assassination has become an acceptable political weapon. The political process in the United States is becoming coarse and cruel. And it is taking up far too much time, considering the quality of the product it delivers. The 2008 presidential campaign has been going on for months now and we are not yet at the halfway point. I’m not sure I can stand another year of it.

Most of the candidates, of course, are members of Congress, taking time away from their supposedly important duties to malign the president in the process of selling the voting public on the idea that that they can do his job better. It’s a tough sell, considering how poorly they have performed in their current jobs. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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