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|That’s NOT Just Politics|
That’s just politics! How many times have we heard that one before? Every time we get wind of something that happened, which obviously should not have happened, it is always justified by the “well…..that’s just politics” refrain. What does that even mean? Does it mean that we have to accept corruption, unethical behavior, cronyism, under the table deals, and so on and so on because “well…that’s just politics?” These are not the actions of politics. These are the actions of people who have personal and self-serving agendas and use their positions as elected officials to achieve them. These are actions of people who believe that ethics is a word that has no place in our political system, and do all that they can to keep any conversation about ethics legislation off the table. These are the actions of folks who have no big picture mentality or any idea of what it means to truly be a representative of those people who put them in place to…let me think….represent them. These are the actions of a criminal.
What went wrong here? Our system of government is looked on by the rest of the world as being the crème de la crème. By the way, for some of our elected officials who will remain nameless, that would be French for the best of the best and not an ingredient in the free coffee that you expect before any meeting starts. It is amazing that we are still considered the favored form of government that many countries are struggling to achieve even now. But we must stop and think a minute here. It is not our type of government that has lost its allure. Our founding fathers did create a form of government that is the crème de la crème. It has stood the test of time, with one challenge after another and remains firm in its foundation today.
It’s not the form of government, but the form of those people who hold positions in government that has caused the problem. The freedoms that were so well thought out, and that so many people have died for, are the very freedoms that are taken advantage of with a list of scoundrels that continues to grow. Just when you think you have heard the worst example of a politician who has misused their public office, we hear of another one that is even worse.
The modern day politician has evolved full circle, even though that supposed perfect circle has become very crooked indeed, from those early politicians who began this whole thing. In the beginning, with few exceptions, those early politicians were only interested in what was best for the country. Many of today’s politicians are more interested in what is best for them. If in the process of achieving their personal goals, the country should benefit as well, then BONUS!! But make no mistake, the country’s benefit is not required as part of this mentality. The early politician never considered representation as a career. It was never intended to be a job. You do the work that is required and that you were elected to do, and then you go back to your real job. Plain and simple. Today’s’ politicians consider their elected positions to be their job. And with these jobs, which again…they are not, they also expect certain entitlements for the “sacrifice “that they are making. This is where the trouble usually starts. That “sacrifice” usually pales in comparison to those entitlements that they expect and that they typically receive as an elected official.
I’ve heard many politicians say that “they certainly aren’t doing it for the money.” I don’t believe that anyone will argue that point. But it also raises the question that if you are not doing it for the money; then why are you doing it? How many politicians do you know who can look you straight in the eye and say that they are only doing it to be the voice of those constituents that elected them to represent their views. If we were all in a room together at the point of this question, I dare say the room would not be cluttered with arms wagging in the breeze. Obviously there are still politicians who are in office and who are seeking office who still truly seek to serve for the right reasons. I would like to think that I know many of them personally. But for those who are, and thanks to each of them for what they do, they are becoming a minority to those who do not share their sense of what elected officials should, and should not, do.
As their acts are uncovered, each must be held accountable. As damaging as these acts can be to the overall opinion of politics in general, they must always be brought to the forefront. It is a bitter pill to swallow but it is also the only pill that will allow for this scourge to be diminished. But bringing those who are guilty to a halt does not mean that everything must come to a halt. Unfortunately, when one of these stories is exposed, those who are trying to do the right thing will cowl down and wait for the storm to pass and nothing gets done. Corruption should never derail good work. Corruption should literally feed those who are trying to do the right thing. It is almost a slap in the face of the ethical to be thwarted by the unethical.
It’s not our system, and it’s not just politics. Both of those institutions are based on firm premises. The weak link has always been, and remains today the people who charter the course of these systems. And as any good captain will tell you, a well-built ship can take rough waters to an extent. But at some point, even the best built ship will become vulnerable if the high seas never calm.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Stan L. Hall is the former (retired) director of the Victim Witness Program for the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.
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