Follow the money and it will lead to who, what, why, when…always.
Draining the Swamp and starting from scratch is the only way that we are going to be able to get back to making America great again. Let’s have a national debate, without the politicos, about where our government has gone, why it is doing things it has no mandate to do under the Constitution, and then let’s have real reform that pares it down to size in order to effectively do what it should be doing. A big part of that reform needs address getting money out of politics, the elimination of special interests.
After that, let’s take it to our state and local governments, many of which are “mini-federal governments” in action…they too, could care less about the interests of their citizens, instead working for the votes, power, and money.
Americans turning on the television or scanning the news on their phones on any given day will find stories about national security threats to the U.S. Former Ambassador Jon Huntsman said recently to the U.S. Senate, “There is no question — underline no questions — that the Russian government interfered in the U.S. election last year.”
This country faces no shortage of other foreign policy challenges, including threats from Russia, China, North Korea — and the list goes on.
But the greatest danger to our country is not coming from overseas. It is within our own borders, and there is already evidence of its growing threat: Our elected leaders’ inability to govern.
What happens when America is so divided that it no longer stands out as a shining beacon of democracy for the rest of the world? And can the country afford to sacrifice soft power at such a critical moment when authoritarianism is on the rise abroad?
If one only follows news reports, dysfunction is all Washington lawmakers have in common: Majorities in Congress disagree to the point of gridlock on everything from improving America’s healthcare system to overhauling the tax code. There’s also division within factions of both the Republican and Democratic parties on issues like Medicare and immigration. The lack of bipartisan agreement on a host of issues is paralyzing the legislative process.
But that is not all of it: The enormous power special interests and outside groups exert over policymakers, and an all-consuming focus on reelection by incumbent lawmakers, has distorted and endangered our representative democracy.
Consider that once they are elected to office, too many members of Congress spend 20 to 30 hours a week glued to a phone raising money for their own reelection and doling dollars out to fellow lawmakers and the political parties, rather than attempting to legislate. Why? Because if a member does not raise enough money, it is unlikely he or she will be reelected or find a position on the most powerful congressional committees. This reduces the most powerful legislative leaders in the country to telemarketers, and it also explains the spate of recent high-profile Republican retirements. Valuable institutional knowledge leaving the government because the chase for money plays too large a role in American politics.
Meanwhile, special interests hijack the legislative process, pushing aside most Americans from the conversation. They also intimidate lawmakers, discouraging them from governing in a bipartisan fashion by threatening to spend millions of dollars to attempt to swing elections to promote their narrow goals. This then spurs politicians to spend more time raising money, rather than building relationships on Capitol Hill with their fellow elected members of Congress. Leaders are focused more on maintaining political majorities than they are in addressing the critical issues facing the country. This backwards way of governing reduces America’s effectiveness and prestige at home and abroad.
Instead, ethics agencies, watchdog groups, and the media have become the enemy of those in power, further reducing the hope of transparency, accountability, and the return to good government.
All of this raises an important question: Where do Americans turn if they cannot trust their elected leaders to look out for the country’s best interests? As the country continues to lose faith in our democratic institutions, it is up to Congress to worry less about what deep-pocketed interests want from our government and politicians and more about solving problems afflicting the average American and tarnishing the country’s image on the global stage.