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Politicians do the opposite of what many want, because our forefathers set it up that way
By Jim Kempton
We citizens have become increasingly frustrated with the gridlock in our nation’s capital.
Everywhere I hear folks asking why our representatives seem to thwart the national demands the electorate agree on. It may seem counter-productive now that we have become a much more unified United States of America, where we consider ourselves Americans first and Californians or Virginians a distant second.
But that was not how the original colonists saw it.
They were independent sovereign colonies and they were not only fearful of the British, but also a little distrustful of each other. Little Rhode Island did not want big Pennsylvania to overwhelm them with voting population. South Carolina did not want anyone taking away their slaves. Massachusetts did not want their imported goods taxed too much, and New Jersey wanted as much say as their giant neighbor New York.
So they set up a system that allowed each representative to work for their own constituents—not the “We the People.” They left that to the President.
What we must understand is the way the political system was set up, and why.
The responsibility of our representatives is to go to Congress, work with other politicos and bring funding back to their own district. That is their job. And this concept—that each state, each area or each district would protect its own interests—is what the Founding Fathers agreed upon over many, many years of bickering, badgering and belly-aching.
Take the “Bridge to Nowhere.” That multi-billion dollar boondoggle in Alaska.
While it may have seemed a giant waste of taxpayer money to the rest of the nation, it certainly had a purpose for Alaskans. It brought lots of work to the county it was in—not only jobs for those who were building it, but for those who supplied the food, housing and entertainment for those who were building the bridge as well. It made that area’s economy sing.
If any one of the politicians from that Alaskan district (from either party) had done the right thing for the country and turned down the funding for the project, they would not have been in the next session of Congress. Why? Because if they did vote down spending in their own locality their constituents would have voted someone else in—someone who would promise to bring home the bacon (jobs, infrastructure and services) instead of refusing it.
There is a reason why every single state has at least one military base. It is because they are big money bags for the people of that district. Think of where we would be without Camp Pendleton. Multiply that times 300 and you will know why no representative wants to shut down a military base, no matter how redundant it may be. It may be a bridge to nowhere for the nation, but it is path to prosperity for the district and road to reelection for the representative.
The reason representatives don’t do the right thing for the nation is because it is not their job. We know this if we have read how the Founding Fathers argued and connived for the benefit of their own colony, their own region and their own districts. That’s the way we work. But memories too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget.
Jim Kempton is a writer, surfer and cooking fanatic, who also enjoys reading American history. He knows that all good citizens have always wanted to reduce the size of our government spending. Just as long as it is in someone else’s district.
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