A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Friday, March 12, 2010

On Why the Culture of Corruption in Washington Will Only Get Worse

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


Bruce said...

Allan, we have had our disagreements over politics (supreme court decisions),(legislation and taxes for wealthy and big business), but in this we are in complete agreement. The only thing I would add is that governemnt in general simply ignores individual voters. Everything is designed for the benefit of the wealthiest folks and the wealthiest corporations. That may be part of why so many Americans trust the used car salesman more than the politician. We govern for the top 10% of wealth and business while ignoring the rest. Small business, the engine of our economy, suffers while AGI is bailed out.

Allan R. Bevere said...


Much to your delight, I am sure, next week I am going to do a parallel post to this one on the corrupting influence of greed on Wall Street.

It is not that I disagree with you on that, I think, however, in actuality that it is easier to reign in the sinful dispositions of business than the sinful dispositions of politics. Perhaps I will post on that at some point and you can weigh in, but I don't want that comment to detract from this current post.

Thanks for your comments.

Allan R. Bevere said...

I am stunned that the usual partisans have not responded. Where are you?

Country Parson said...

Ah Nuts! You know I think your politics are a tad Neanderthal, as opposed to my own enlightened understanding. But, having spent more than a few years in and around D.C., I know how corrupting the place can be, and by that I mean that members of congress and the administration are pandered to by hosts of sycophants attracted to power and seduced by hosts of lobbyists trying to influence them. It's hard to keep one's moral bearings in that environment. You could keep better informed on these things if you would watch Rachel Maddow more often.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes Allan, what a mess in D.C.! I'm only beginning to understand just how bad it is. Too bad. Because ideally I would much rather have "we the people" through our elected representatives hammering out a consensus working model/package on health care, rather than entrusting it to companies whose priority is the bottom line. So I have no answers on this. Maybe a third great awakening is the only answer! But I think it surely is an uphill battle at least most of the time.

Allan R. Bevere said...


I do appreciate your wisdom and your contributions to my blog.

But, I just can't bring myself to watch state-run MSNBC. (FOX News had that honor when GWB was President.)


It is very discouraging to watch, but I came to the realization so long ago, I have become somewhat numb, I think. I know this. I could never, ever get excited enough about any candidate, regardless of party affiliation, to campaign for her or him.

Joel Betow said...

Although I agree about the real dangers of undisciplined big government, Social Security, Medicare, environmental regulations, and civil rights legislation only came about as the power of federal government increased. Barry Goldwater wanted small federal government but he also wanted the states to be free to continue segregation and to deny voting rights, just for two examples. As well, I see little evidence that state, county, city or town governments are any more responsible to the people than the federal government is. Oklahoma has terms limits, but that hasn't resulted in legislators being more accountable to the public. Instead, legislators have little time to become familiar with how the system works such that those elected have become even more dependent on lobbyists. It is also my suspicion that term limits has simply increased the number of revolving doors between the peoples' Houses and the lobbyists houses.