COME CLEAN, OR GO HOME
IT'S NOT ENOUGH FOR THE DEMOCRATS UNLESS THEY'RE GOING TO BE LIKE THIS GUY...
I love it when I get David Sirota's updates. He makes a good argument that in 2006, it will not be enough for Democrats to campaign that they are better than the Republicans. Unfortunately, just like the Democratic Party has been infected by Republican wannabes, better known as the DLC, the Republican Party has likewise been infected with Neo-Conservatives, who ate up the moderate or true conservatives. You know that the Republicans are in trouble when the likes of William Buckley is trying to distance himself from the antics of late. Even BoBo is calling out the thugs in the Republican Party...
But, read what my friend, Mr. Sirota, has to say on this:
Getting Caught vs. Coming Clean
By David Sirota
Can you hear that sound coming from Washington? It is the Democrats licking their chops as Republicans seem to collapse under the weight of corruption scandals. With the indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, on money-laundering charges, the salivating began. Then there was the guilty plea by Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Del Mar (San Diego County), on bribery charges. Now, with indicted Republican Jack Abramoff signing a plea agreement that could bring down other lawmakers, we detect a hungry growl from the minority party.
The Democrats' excitement is understandable: Republicans as a whole have clearly embarrassed themselves, with California Republicans leading the charge in making their party a national joke. First there was Cunningham. Then came Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Redlands (San Bernardino County), who was exposed for using his powerful positions on the House Appropriations Committee to lavish taxpayer-funded contracts on lobbying clients of his close friend, lobbyist and former California Rep. Bill Lowery. Now, two more California congressmen, Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin (Placer County), and Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, are implicated in the Abramoff scandal, having taken large campaign contributions from Abramoff's clients.
In short, the GOP has humiliated itself in a way that only reinforces an image of the party that the public already holds: too beholden to big-money interests.
But underneath all the Democratic Party excitement about the GOP's corrupt missteps, a question still lingers: Is it enough for national Democratic Party leaders to simply point out their opponents' flaws?
The answer is likely no, especially if the flaws are related to corruption. The fact is the public has long believed politicians of both parties are bought and paid for by special interests. And, by and large, the public is right.
Industries now regularly spend millions of dollars underwriting political campaigns. Californians got a bitter taste of this most recently with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's special-election campaign, funded with huge amounts of corporate cash. These contributions were called donations, but the public knows that's just a euphemism for what it really is: legalized bribery.
Then there is lobbying -- that synonym for selling insider access and connections to big-money interests, and then converting that access into congressional votes. Once a small specialty field, lobbying has become a billion-dollar bipartisan industry, with the revolving door between business and government spinning faster than an industrial strength fan.
This not-so-hidden system of money for votes means that congressional Democrats have to do more than just complain about Republicans so-called "culture of corruption." They must actually get up the courage to start advocating for fundamental reforms -- reforms that are already being pushed in states across the country.
Governors in Montana and New Hampshire, for instance, have pushed a slate of serious reforms that would, among other things, prevent lawmakers from immediately cashing in and becoming lobbyists, and would stop gifts from lobbyists to government officials. In Colorado, lawmakers last year pushed legislation to force companies seeking contracts with the government to publicly disclose their efforts to lobby state officials.
Perhaps most important are the successful efforts in Connecticut and Arizona to once and for all eliminate the system of legalized bribery and replace it with publicly financed elections, whereby qualifying candidates receive a certain amount of public money to compete in campaigns. Instead of a political process that favors candidates who can best shake down big-money donors, these states now have a publicly financed system that allows candidates to run on their ideas, their convictions and their integrity.
These states' efforts are clearly motivating others. As just one example, Assembly member Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is leading a group of Democratic legislators pushing a bill in the upcoming session that would create a public-financing system for legislative and gubernatorial campaigns.
America is clearly sick of pay-to-play politics. But the public knows that corruption is a disease that afflicts the entire political process. It is why a Wall Street Journal poll showed that the public views both parties negatively at the same time -- the first such double-negative ratings in the poll's 15-year history.
Unless national Democratic Party leaders follow the lead of states pushing reform and fully embrace plans to seriously clean up our country's corrupt political system, Americans will likely fault the scandal-plagued Republicans only for getting caught, not for committing a sin worthy of being tossed out of office.
Well said, David. I always did admire a man who possessed intelligence as well as good looks...LOL