November 13, 2010

We Need a Competency Test for Elected Officials

Where do they find these people? I'm talking about those crazy-talking Tea Party types, ultra-conservative Republicans posing as legitimate lawmakers and politicians, some of them even passing themselves off as senators, members of Congress and governors.

Now, before you say anything, I am not naïve about politics. I know that politics has always attracted some of the best, but all too frequently it has attracted some of the worst that society has to offer. But this past election season, it seems as if the bottom fell out on how bad it can get -- how truly pathetic and hopelessly unqualified candidates for political office are allowed to be. Tea party candidates demonstrated their extremist and racist views, their ignorance of basic constitutional principles, and their lack of preparation for primetime.

And most of all, they showed that they are wholly-owned pawns of wealthy interests.

Rand Paul, Rick Scott and Jan Brewer won. Christine O'Donnell, Ken Buck and Sharron Angle lost, but they were still legitimate nominees of a major political party, so victory was at least within the realm of the possible for them. Dumb as bricks, with no practical experience or knowledge of which to speak, is suddenly a virtue. Some of them said they would criminalize abortion in the case of rape and incest, or protect the rights of private businesses to discriminate against black people. Some have urged the use of Second Amendment remedies. At least one candidate led a program to openly intimidate black voters. And yet, a number of them found enough votes to take them to victory. They told the constituents they would protect the interests of the rich, and yet they were able to garner enough votes from the poor dumb citizenry to win the election. That's something, isn't it?

The bar of stupidity and intolerance is lowered every day, and yet someone will vote for these people. In Oklahoma, a state senator authored a measure to amend the state constitution, prohibiting state courts from considering international law or Islamic Sharia law when reviewing cases. The measure passed with 70 percent of the vote, and a federal judge overturned it, which shows that the federal government is necessary to protect us from the states.

The re-elected governor of Texas, Rick Perry, longs for the old days, a hundred years ago -- before the progressive movement and the New Deal, when there were no child labor laws, unemployment insurance, national income tax, consumer regulations or worker protections. He even wanted Texas To secede from the Union, and likely put an innocent man to death. And still, the citizenry of Texas rewarded Perry with a third term in office.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, the governor and a state legislator pass an anti-immigrant "papers please" law that was drafted by white supremacists and the private-prison industry.

Whenever you find deplorable laws, there were deplorable people behind those laws, driven by greed and fanaticism, and lacking in character, empathy, scruples, and a concern for the common good. America needs some sort of competency exam, some kind of quality control process for their elected officials. Where are the regulations? I know, elections are supposed to take care of that. Under normal circumstances, in a democracy with elected representatives, you should be able to count on an informed electorate to pick the best candidates based on the issues. But this is America, and there are several problems with that notion. Civic engagement is lacking, voter participation is low, and many who vote are low information voters. Public education and the news media have failed them. While democracy depends on an educated electorate, sadly, too many American voters are ignorant and ill-informed.

It does not help matters that the nation's politics are driven by a system of legalized bribery, blown wide open by the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. In this pay-to-play land, with the best system money can buy, democracy goes to the highest bidder. So what is considered corruption in your run-of-the-mill, Third World banana republic is the law in America, protected by the First Amendment -- because corporations are people, too.

Given the dysfunction, the gridlock and the mean-spiritedness in our politics, it is no wonder that the best and brightest too often flock to other disciplines, leaving the barrel scrapers to fill the vacuum of political leadership. And yet, someone somewhere out there will vote for them.

1 comment:

Benito said...

“Prop. 200”, “House Bill 2013″ and “SB1070″

0 = Arizona
3 = USA/ Our Constitution/ We the People of the United States

We are a country that is ruled by the Constitution (with all Amendments), and the Declaration of Independence, not by the majority of the day. When the uneducated do not know the principles in these documents, therein lays the problem in losing, so no one should be surprised when the dullards lose in court after being smartly challenged.

Last month of October 2010, our Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Arizona’s requirement that people show proof of citizenship to register to vote or the 2004, “Prop. 200”. In the month of July 2010, our U.S. Federal courts have found the so called State of Arizona hate filled legislation namely “House Bill 2013″ and “SB1070″ Un-constitution (So much for the intellect of Jan Brewer, “Did you read the bills you signed?”). But we all know that they will go crying to the Supreme Court of the United States, please, please, please go. We will fight you in Arizona, any other state, and yes in Washington DC. We will not tire, we will not be silent and we will persevere, I promise you.

In my opinion the Republican Party has been taken over the most extreme of clans; the Baggers, Birthers and Blowhards (people who love to push their beliefs and hate on others while trying to take away the rights of those they just hate) and that’s who they need to extract from their party if they real want to win in November. Good Luck, because as they said in WACO, “We Ain’t Coming Out”.

I know the proponents of this law say that the majority approves of these laws, but the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO! You were all wrong then and you are wrong now!

I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by people of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all people are created equal, and that the rights of every person are diminished when the rights of one person are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis people of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some people comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.