Tuesday, October 26, 2010

'I Refuse To Join Any Club That Would Have Me As A Member’

Don’t you sometimes wish this were true with our elected officials?

As in: 'I refuse to run for any Congress that would have me as a Congressman/Senator!'

This great line from Groucho Marx could apply to hundreds of candidates each and every year it seems.

This year has been particularly distressing, hasn't it? We have all these monstrous problems facing us as a nation and we know more about who is and who is not a witch than who is actually going to reduce these budget deficits, for one glaring example.

Politician-bashing is great fun and great sport and entertainment and has been around the globe throughout recorded history.  It has happened since time immemorial back to when the ancient Greeks performed plays on a regular basis ridiculing or lampooning those who were in elective office.

But, seriously, haven’t we taken the noble profession of public service too far into the gutter in the last decade or so? And by that I mean, the cable talk shows; the 'investigative' (sic) journalism; the on-line sniping; the onerous restrictions on income and the financial disclosure rules and regulation.

That is why we get people like Meg Whitman running for Governor in California cause she is one of the very few who will spend $141 million of her own money to pay for ads to fight through all the stuff that confronts a modern-day candidate.  But do we really want an oligarchy of extremely wealthy people being the only ones who ever step up to the plate and run for office?

Who in their right minds would ever want to run for any public office nowadays in America?  Would this generation’s Jefferson and Madison take one look at the financial disclosure rules or the cable chattering heads and say: ‘You know, on second thought, I think I’d rather stay at home in my nice house and just hope someone else will do it!’?

Abraham Lincoln, of all people, had to suffer the indignity of being called a ‘baboon’ in newsprint and to his face.  That might be enough to even get a reprimand out of NPR nowadays based on their heavy-handed firing of Juan Williams recently.

To his credit, ‘Honest Abe’ knew how to turn an insult into a funny quip a la Ronald Reagan 120 years later.  When called a ‘baboon’ and ‘two-faced’, Lincoln would reply calmly: ‘If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?’

But seriously, do you honestly and cross-your-heart-and-hope-to-die believe we really getting our '#1 draft picks' to run for public office nowadays?  Do we really have the 435 smartest and most able people serving in Congress right now, or about to?  How about 100 of the smartest and most able people serving as Senators?

Or are they our ‘#14 round draft picks with a player to be named later’?

One thing about our First Constitutional Convention:  It can be reasonably surmised that the best and the brightest people in the land actually were in attendance during those 4 hot, smelly, humid months in Philadelphia in 1787.  Madison. Franklin. Hamilton...you name them, they were there fighting it out on the only floor of debate that actually matters in a democratic republic, the legislative arena.

Even the ones who drank heavily every night such as Luther Martin of Maryland who was a noted jurist during his sober days…they were all highly educated; could read Greek and Latin; understood history and philosophy and could communicate, negotiate and yes, even compromise to come out with the most amazing document the world has ever known, the U.S. Constitution.

Think about who you are voting for in 7 days now.  We need the next Jefferson or Madison to run and serve. Maybe they are not in this crop of candidates.  But we have to get them in the political game before it is too late.

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