Down with Career Politicians

Deborah San Angelo, Staff Writer

These are the days that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams warned us about. The professional political class has taken over our government. The American people have lost control. We can see that the American political system is more diverse now than ever before. But the culture of politics itself is careerism, which is not what it was originally designed to be. Holding political offi ce was meant to be temporary.

The Founding Fathers intended to protect us from oppressive governments and societies that they experienced first-hand. The reason they didn’t address the issue of limiting how long a person served in offi ce was because they did not foresee that politics would become a career for so many people.

The average salary of a congress member is more than $175,000 per year, not including perks, benefits, lavish expense accounts, plush pension plans and the best medical coverage that money can buy. Their lifestyles are often lavish.

These are great jobs if you can get them. It’s easy to understand why they’re so coveted. Office holders use public funds to pursue their political ambitions. They become savvy at doublespeak, spinning each other’s words and mastering language that disguises and distorts. They hire lawyers to fight the growing grassroots movement toward installing term limits, and pay for them with taxpayer money. Is it reasonable to call this a representational government? These are the people who are guiding our country. Are they more concerned with our interests or with those of the distinct, career-minded ruling class that they have become?

The reality is that most Americans aren’t policy buff s. Most prefer to outsource their problems and issues to political actors. As long as the U.S. population is served up its daily dose of reality TV, celebrity scandals and live sports, it remains docile.

Mark Twain said, “Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.”

The principle that people can govern themselves lies at the heart of our Constitution. Fresh outlooks and new perspectives will reinvigorate our system. Any reasonably interested and well-educated citizen would be more representative of their communities than any one of our elite class career politicians.

A strong argument can be made for the value of experience. Effectiveness usually requires a learning curve. That’s why seasoned politicians should have the option of staying on as mentors, at reduced salaries, when their official terms have ended. If they’re sincere, this won’t be a problem. Getting re-elected would no longer be a part of their job. But there should be a place for those who truly have a calling.

The philosophy of this nation’s Founders is thoroughly buried and it needs to be rediscovered. “Men are naturally divided into two parties: those who fear and distrust the people and wish to draw power from them into the hands of the higher classes, and those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interest,” Thomas Jefferson said.

The American people are responsible for and have the right to fix what’s broken. Our democracy is far from being a finished product. We have yet to deliver on the promise of a classes society.