In an interview this morning, pollster Scott Rasmussen said that consistently over the years when they poll people asking them whom they trust more, politicians or used car salesmen, the answer is consistently the same regardless of the political party in power. People trust the used car salesmen.
When the Republicans were in power of both the executive and the legislative branches from 2000-2006, the corruption scandals were numerous. Nancy Pelosi promised to "drain the swamp" if she and the Democrats were in charge, and she promised the most ethical Congress in history. Well, the swamp has not been drained and the culture of corruption continues as now Democrats are emerging as the ones in scandal; and as long as they are in power more moral lapses will no doubt come to light, not because they are Democrats, but because economic and political power seem to have a strong corrupting influence on politicians of all political stripes.
And what I am going to suggest in this post is that the swamp will only get more putrid and the culture of corruption will only become more pronounced. As government gets larger and larger and works to exercise even more control over our lives, politicians will by necessity end up with more power and less accountability. And too many politicians with power are like alcoholics with booze-- one drink is never enough; one piece of intrusive legislation is not sufficient. (A politician in the NY legislature has introduced a bill that would ban restaurants in The Empire State from using salt in any food preparation.)
It is all too easy for politicians with power to become arrogant while they fall in love with their own wisdom. In the Washington bubble, where intelligence is often divorced from reality, those in power fall into an "eat your peas!" mentality. With more power government acts more and more like an overbearing parent who treats the American people like children who do not know what's good for them. How else can the current irrational push to pass a terrible health care reform bill in light of clear opposition from the American people be explained?
Moreover, the more government intrudes into the lives of its citizens the more intense political lobbying becomes. When government becomes the "all-benevolent" benefactor in every arena of life, special interest groups increase in number and compete even harder for their portion that falls from the table of the Lords of the Manor in Washington. Favors here and favors there, and Congress will end up with more and more Denny Hasterts, Chris Dodds, Charley Rangels, and Tom DeLays. While government corruption has always been a problem, it will only become worse as government gets more "skin in the game," of the lives of the American people. And contrary to what many citizens wish, political lobbying may be curtailed in some ways, but it cannot be stopped completely because the Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen to petition the government.
And my comments apply to politicians from both political parties. In spite of the current hypocritical outrage now being expressed by the Republicans on fiscal responsibility and less government, they have been no more fiscally responsible nor less intrusive than the Democrats. And once they have power once again, they will likely not reverse the intrusions of the Democrats. The old adage that once the camel gets its nose in the tent it is impossible to keep the camel out is axiomatically true of Washington DC, no matter what the political landscape.
So, while used car salesmen will never be seen by the American people as trustworthy, they will continue to rate higher on the ethical scale than politicians, and we may find as time goes on, that the trust gap between the two will get even wider.
And that's bad news for politicians, not only for the ones who are currently in office, but also for the former Senators and Representatives who are looking for a job selling automobiles. It just may be that the used car business owners won't want to hire people who might give them a bad reputation.
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Cross-Posted at RedBlueChristian