I’m the kind of person that’s always looking for a solution. Solutions aren’t nearly as sexy as problems…mostly because solutions can’t exist without problems, but when problems are presented, I find myself focusing on the solution. It just feels right. Complaining about the problem, while occasionally entertaining, just gets my blood boiling. Looking for a solution is calming…or something like that.
Last year, before the Democrats really started getting any traction on the whole “Culture of Corruption” meme (I’m still not sure HOW much ACTUAL traction it got, but they’re running with it) I started thinking about solutions to the perception of corruption, real or imagined.
Corruption is a tricky thing (knee slap). There are three kinds of corruption: Real Corruption, Real but un-provable corruption, and Imagined corruption. All three of these “forms” of corruption exist in the world today in some form or another.
Obviously, “imagined” corruption can be as damaging as the other two, but goes more to an individual’s, or group of individuals perception of the “corrupt” official. Imagined corruption is more about the predisposition of the accuser than the actions of the accused. Still, in many cases, no manner of rational or logical argument can disprove “imagined” corruption to the accuser, so it has to be considered. Don’t believe me…remember, Hillary Clinton allegedly “killed” Vince Foster back in ‘94. In short, “imagined” corruption is the stuff of tin foil hats…headgear that is getting more and more fashionable every day.
The other two forms of corruption aren’t nearly as fun to work with, because essentially they are real. These are individuals who should be held to account, in one way or another, for their misdeeds. These are law enforcement issues as much as anything else. Still, the single best defense against corruption of any flavor is transparency.
The handy dandy thesaurus on my computer here gives these synonyms for transparency: Openness, accountability, straightforwardness, candor. I think that all of these synonyms work quite well, but accountability is my favorite. “Required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible. Can anyone argue against this idea as an operational condition for government at ANY level, be it Federal, State, or local? Doesn’t sound good to you, may I suggest Turkmenistan?
Accountability, that’s what the disaffected populace yearns for…that or someone other than themselves to blame, and that’s precisely what our elected officials seem all too reluctant to provide.
Why the reluctance? Surely none of our representatives in government want to be portrayed as corrupt! Perhaps, but I tend to believe that it goes to two real issues: paternalism and fear. Paternalism is easy, find me one able body that doesn’t want someone or something subordinate to them and I’ll show you a slobbering yellow lab with a tennis ball in it’s mouth. Fear is a bit more, yet less, complicated. You see, if everyone knew just how little one has to know to be a legislator, not a good one mind you, just a legislator, then the secret would be out that any half-wit with a misshapen rug, nice teeth, and a fresh facelift can be one. Look at Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). He’s the former chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that, in channeling his inner plumber, called the internets a “series of tubes”. See it ain’t THAT hard.
Folks, your secret’s safe with me.
If I may be serious for a moment though…and I may or may not…fear of losing power TRULY is the issue at hand here. Even paternalism is secondary to the fear that one may be voted insignificant by a consensus of their peers, or worse yet, people they perceive beneath them. THIS is why Republicans love to card minorities at the polls and slip from think tank to administration official to lobbyist to think tanker as seamlessly as a Victoria’s Secret bra.
Fear or no fear, perv or not, the issue here is accountability. For a moment, I would like you to think about yourself. Go on, think about yourself. No, not the weird zit on your back, or that strange way your eyebrow curls when you’re pondering the speed at which paint dries…Nope look inside. Now that you’re in there, sweep some of those cobwebs away. Damn it’s dusty up here. Now, think about the last time you took responsibility for something stupid you did, without any help from anyone else. At some point we all try to shift, skirt, or sneak ourselves out of taking responsibility for our actions.
Believe it or not, politicians are people too. They do the exact same stupid stuff you do EVERYDAY, only bigger, and in front of the media, and a bunch of loudmouth staffers, and that douchebag that keeps following him/her around. Luckily for them, the only people paying attention are the press secretary and the douchebag, so they may or may not get by with it. Rinse and Repeat as necessary. Unchecked, it doesn’t take long for this behavior to become a habit. Over time, your inspirational leader transforms himself to just another common hack.
Who’s responsible for this? Well, of course the politician is responsible for their actions, but just like a parent shepherding a child through childhood, the weight of the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of the constituents who neither saw fit to check the power of this individual, nor replace him/her for not representing them effectively.
Didn’t like that answer did you?
The simple truth is that a representative democracy, like we have here in the Unit
ed States, needs as many people as possible participating in order to function effectively. Participation is not just voting, though that is participation at it’s most base level. Participation is staying abreast of the issues that affect your community city, state, and the nation.
Sounds like a big job, huh?
No one’s saying you have to have intimate knowledge of every issue, just a passing knowledge that could become intimate should you feel the need. It’s simple accountability. It’s being responsible. It’s being an adult. It’s preserving the ideals of liberty, that grand mythology that has never truly come to full fruition, but that we should all continue to seek.
This is what our nation can be if we are willing to work for it. (humming America the Beautiful in my head) This is what we can become. We can stem the tide of corruption, real and imagined if we all just work together to hold our politician’s feet to the fire. Are ya with me? Cool, I’m going to the bar. Have fun with that.