Raise your hand if you’re fed up with our country’s government. As our economy remains sluggish to recover from a hard recession, as a record number of illegal immigrant children are coming across our borders, and as wealth disparity between top earners and middle/low earners continues to grow our politicians; our “leaders” would rather spend their time trying to sue the President, beat the dead horse of Benghazi, or complain about the border crisis while not doing anything about it. Just when did our government turn into something resembling an episode of the Jerry Springer show, where politicians use stubbornness and ignorance while participating in activities that amount to playground name calling and squabbling? These are the men and women we elected to run our country? These are the ones who are supposed to be representing the people of America?
It’s no secret that over the last two decades partisan politics have been slowly suffocating our nation culminating in the least productive and most politically gridlocked congress in history. That inability to cooperate and pass legislation effects the lives of the people at large, but those on Capitol Hill stay largely comfortable. Need proof? John McCain, long time senator and former presidential candidate made approximately $420,000 in 2007 from a combination of his senate salary, government pension, book deals (which he gets simply because he’s a senator) and social security. And this was while the economy was going into the toilet. Why is this 2007 stat relevant? It is because McCain today still makes roughly the same amount. His senate salary alone is about $160,000 a year, and it is almost impossible to calculate the other benefits he receives in pay outs from the RNC for appearing on television, speaking fees, tax breaks, business opportunities made available due to his position, and numerous other perks of the office. In contrast, Harry Reid’s estimated net worth stands at $2.6 million, he owns a 160 acre parcel of land in Arizona, and earns almost $200,000 a year as a senator. Both McCain and Reid have been politicians for years (Reid since 1969, and McCain since 1983) and it would be hard to argue that they don’t owe their current wealth to holding public office.
So while McCain, Reid, and the other politicians in Washington are becoming wealthy on the tax payers dime, what have they done as the representatives of the people? The easy answer is “a whole lot of nothing.” The sad truth is that politicians in recent years have changed their view of holding public office as a chance to make their nation better, and instead now see it as a chance to have a lucrative personal career. The main priority of being a politician today is not to represent the people, it is to get elected, hold onto your office for as long as possible, and open other opportunities for yourself while accumulating wealth. This is just one of the reasons why we see a bitterly divided Washington refusing to work together, instead choosing to attack and discredit each other all in an effort to protect their own personal interests. So instead of congress passing legislation on important issues facing our nation we get title fights such as Bohner vs. Obama, McConnell vs. Reid, and McCain vs. Pelosi. This constant bickering does nothing to move our country forward, and it does nothing to solve the very real problems that we currently face. Yet our politicians go home every night to their palatial homes never having to worry about money, or where their next business opportunity will come from, or how they’re going to send their kids to college.
It is a situation in which aggressive partisanship has permeated every sector of the government and leaked into the public conversation as well. Actually, it’s hard for me to figure out if the media is taking its que from Washington, or if it’s Washington who’s taking its que from the media. Either way, public discourse is breaking down more and more into a “you’re either one of us, or one of them” mentality and our public officials are at the center of the problem. With midterm elections looming in November partisanship is at a peak. Republicans are hell bent on re-taking the senate which would essentially make the last two years of the Obama presidency a wash if their current track record of total opposition is any indication. Meanwhile, Democrats who themselves want to take control of the House while maintaining the senate are not willing to act on crucial issues until after the elections are over. Thus the cycle of unproductively in exchange for personal security continues. As Americans, how long are willing to put up with our officials acting like petty children who are more concerned about their own well being and careers instead of the people they were elected to represent? As entertaining as the stage drama that Washington politics has become, these people where not elected into office and are not being paid tax dollars to be entertainers. And we as a people need to remember that and start holding them accountable.