As I’ve written before, “Nothing is more dangerous than the combination of bad ideas and great communication”. I want to add to that, by including voter apathy.
Witness the birth of ObamaCare, and the justifiable rage that has ensued as a result of the state taking one sixth of our private economy into its control. In the days before the historic vote, note that not even the New York Times could produce a poll saying that a majority of Americans wanted this bill to become law. Most remarkably, as of March 29th, a stunning 54% of likely voters would see it repealed. In morphing their supposed mandate for “change” as pertaining to healthcare and health insurance policy into a supposed mandate for this bill, Obama’s operatives reached their peak (thus far) in disingenuousness.
The rage exists simply because our representatives did not represent. Instead, they blatantly misrepresented. They blatantly insisted in getting this bill passed before Easter recess where they would have been more directly confronted by their constituents. For this bill, it was literally now or never.
In the end, the protests in Washington, the PAC spending, the letter writing and advertising campaigns, the endless blogging and tying-up of phone lines did not matter. 219 Representatives and 56 Senators did what they wanted to do, in pure “damn the torpedoes” fashion. Even in their unanimous opposition, there simply weren’t enough Republicans to make a difference.
And therein lies the biggest lesson.
In the end, it really does boil down to the character of the individual members in Congress. It is they who get to create legislation, not us. At the moment of voting, they are in control, not us. That should now be clear to everyone. So when you combine the character of someone who would sell their vote with the character of someone who would buy it, a market for votes where none should exist, things like ObamaCare are made possible.
The opposite power dynamic exists on exactly one day every two years. This coming November 2nd, theoretically the voters could turn the entire Congress out. We all know that won’t happen. But think about it for a second: Nancy Pelosi, who orchestrated the resurrection of ObamaCare, has been voted back into Congress eleven times. Steny Hoyer, fourteen times, Maxine (“socializing“) Waters, nine times. Bart Stupak, eight times. Henry Waxman, seventeen times. Charlie Rangel, nineteen times. John Dingell, twenty-seven times. How about in the Senate? Harry Reid, three times (now in his twenty-fourth year as a Senator). Barbara Boxer, twice. Barbara Mikulski, three times. Arlen Spector, four times. Enough already (of them and these statistics).
We let this happen. There are more of us than there are of them. So the only explanation for the lack of a permanent limited-government majority in Congress is a lack of voter participation by us. We have received the legislation that through our own voter apathy we allowed to happen. Voter turnout, defined by George Mason University’s Dr. Michael McDonald as those eligible to vote (not merely those of voting age), still remains pathetic in the low 60% range. This means over a third of the country does not care enough about its future to either help keep it as it is, or change it into something better. All of this needs to end. We are now seeing the consequences of the status quo.
But it seems like those on the limited-government side are finally getting the message. Republican challengers to Democratic incumbents are emerging in large numbers. And Conservative challengers to Republicans are out there as well, as Florida’s Charlie Crist knows only too well. And of course, there’s the Tea Party movement, to which Gandhi’s famous quote hopefully applies:
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
And on that note, support thus far for the Tea Party is encouraging. Indeed, it is theirs for the taking. To those of you stepping out and wearing that label, please, make us proud: Be professional, not amateurish. Be courteous, not rude. Be persuasive, not repulsive. Be effective, not merely energetic. Hit the spell check button. In short, be electable. For every step back we need two steps forward, not the other way around.
To those of you who can’t possibly run for office, by all means, support those who can. I firmly believe that no one can buy an election, but I also firmly believe that one can’t get elected without getting their message out. That comes down to money, and often a lot of it. When the entire character of the country’s political foundation is being assaulted, can you come up with a better use of fifty bucks, or a hundred, or a thousand, than to help the right kind of leaders get into office, and to stay there? Leverage the professionals as well, like The Club For Growth, Americans for Prosperity, or FreedomWorks. With the kind of political leadership we have in place right now, those who would constantly seek new ways to pick your pocket of those aforementioned funds and squander it, is there any better investment? Take out your checkbook and start writing.
And on November 2, 2010, make sure that you, and everyone you know, represent.