I was pleasantly surprise when I opened the newspaper to see John Bond’s piece (We need ethical, intelligent, competent politicians). “Finally,” I thought, “something the two of us can agree upon.” Of course, he disappointed me. What started out to be an impassioned critique of the avarice and dis-ingenuousness of our current crop of lobbyists, bureaucrats and legislators in Washington turned out to be a rambling, incoherent attack on the one group that could, finally, bring real change in the way politicians - and their cohorts - do America’s business. By calling those in the “Tea Party” movement (yes, movement – not “party’) disaffected whites, racists, and neo-Nazis, Bond reduced his argument to the lowest common denominator - typical of those who actually fear an informed and inflamed electorate.
Mr. Bond is also deficient in his knowledge of history. He says the Tea Party members and “core constituencies of the GOP…have become disillusioned with a party that has not delivered on its promises (imagined only by Bond) “to rejuvenate the Southern dream of a new confederacy modeled upon the Civil War era one that embraces slavery as its core theme”. Mr. Bond not only doesn’t know history, but seems intent to create his own. It was the first great Republican, Abe Lincoln, who led the great war that ended slavery and it was the same GOP that led the fight for civil rights legislation during the 1960’s, while now prominent Democrat Robert Byrd was an admitted member of the KKK. Mr. Bond also throws in the tiresome charge that the Bush election of 1999 was “illegitimate” and “obtained by fraud”. A little research by him would reveal that, after the Supreme Court put an end to the various recounts of the Florida vote, a consortium of 12 media outlets, including CNN, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the Associated Press, sponsored a review of ballots by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. “The media reported the results of the study during the week after November 12, 2001. The results of the study showed that had the limited county by county recounts requested by the Gore team been completed, Bush would still have been the winner of the election.” And, to quote CNN, “Their count showed that Bush’s razor-thin margin of 537 votes -- certified in December by the Florida Secretary of State’s office -- would have tripled to 1,665 votes if counted according to standards advocated by his Democratic rival, former Vice President Al Gore.”
When Bond wrote of campaigners telling us “precisely what we want to hear”, or that “we assume they are just practicing the art of compromise” when they reverse their stand after being elected, I was with him. When he said “Frankly, it is our naivete; our willingness to be deceived that allows this intolerable situation…” I would only have substituted “self-imposed ignorance” since most of us have allowed others to do the hard work of discovery when it comes to ethics, intellect and competence of those who would be our leaders. Unfortunately those “others” are too often looking for candidates willing to do their bidding in exchange for office. Mr. Bond blames a vague “military-industrial complex” with power to promote candidates in both parties to insure their own interests are advanced. I blame an American public, too complacent to seek information, willing to accept such sources as NBC, CBS,ABC, Washington Post, New York Times, etc., etc., instead of asking their own questions.
When he speaks of the “meteoric rise” of candidates, he includes Bill Clinton and George Bush with Barack Obama, saying it “becomes evident that none of these men were prepared for national leadership”. Nothing can prepare a man or woman for the realities of the presidency. However, only 1 of those 3 had a compelling lack of experience – Barack Obama. Both Clinton and Bush had been governors and, so, had executive experience under their belts. Clinton, to his credit, after Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994, adapted his policies to be more in line with the will of the American voter. Had the Republicans, after a short interlude, not then forgot why they had been given the majority, perhaps we might not be in recession at this moment. Bush, sadly, was never really able to implement his own economic plans due to the attacks of 9/11. His administration was consumed in trying to keep the country safe. Obama had about 140 days as a junior senator under his belt when he began his campaign for the presidency.
But, after decrying the influence of the “military-industrial complex” over our politicians, and bemoaning the lack of ethics, intellect and competency of those elected, he would call on that same “military-industrial” cabal to “save” us from the very people who finally are standing up to demand real change – that those elected pay heed to the voice of the people. Bond is wrong when he believes that Americans will acknowledge “that we are powerless to prevent this destruction of American democratic ideals and principles. And further, he is wrong that those ideals and principles are “demonstrably an experiment that has failed miserably…” It may prove to be, unless we prevent it now, that this Nation has seen its finest hour. But that “hour” has been the finest in the history of mankind and has been an inspiration to all freedom seeking humans. Not since the 1993 mid-term elections have the American people been so clear in what they desire from their candidates, but today the situation is even more dire. “These are ”, to quote Tom Paine, “the times that try men’s souls.” But today’s patriots are the men and women, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, who now stand shoulder to shoulder and, speaking to both parties, say “This is the line in the sand. Beyond this you will not pass without incurring our wrath.” To Mr. Bond I say “These are not the people you should fear. If successful, they will lead us out of the wilderness.”