In a responsible republic, citizens must be participatory in choosing and carefully watching their chosen leaders. Without the fear of retaliation from the governed, those leaders feel emboldened to abuse the public trust. When citizens let their guard down and a holder of elective office abuses the power given them, we should rightfully run them out of office. Instead, we throw up our hands, yell that the system is beyond repair, and abdicate our responsibility for fixing things to someone else. All too often, that someone else has little reservation about the abuses that drove others to inaction. Thus the vicious cycle continues, constantly winnowing down the participants in our electoral process to a smaller and smaller minority. The current push to create an ethics commission is just an indulgence of that collective laziness.
There has been somewhat of a furor lately over ACORN amongst Republicans and their far-right allies. They’ve been doing their darnedest to both paint the organization as a corrupt gang of criminals and tie that organization to the Democratic Party. It sounds like crazy and it is, but it is a familiar kind of crazy. For the better part of a decade, Democrats and their far-left allies have been doing the same thing with Fox News.
This has nothing to do with ACORN or Fox News. Either of those players could be replaced with a new boogieman before tonight’s six o’clock news. It has everything to do with two far ends of the political spectrum cherry-picking examples of crazy from their opponents and attempting to portray that crazy as the norm for “the other guys”. While it all makes for great entertainment (crazy guy caged death matches usually are), it is hardly enlightening and only serves to distract from actually evaluating policy proposals. Instead, we are being asked to pick a team based on who’s less crazy. I say it’s past time to give both major players a reality check and start picking from outside their teams.