I don't typically like to blog about politics. It is a topic that has such great potential to become a volatile topic. For me, it is always a topic that I would much prefer to avoid all together. However, I heard an interesting statement the other day that really made me think.
I was listening to NPR last week and the person speaking (whose name I have completely failed to remember) was discussing the upcoming presidential election. When discussing the choice between the two candidates, she said that voters will need to "decide which millionaire they want to vote for". I found that statement to be very thought provoking.
Let's consider this idea for a moment. We elect politicians to represent our best interests in government. However, with each passing election, it seems that the divide between the politician and the general populace grows larger. Politicians speak of the common ordeal of the middle-class, but when was the last time that any of them were middle-class? How am I expected to believe that either Obama or Romney have any idea what it is like to be middle-class? When was the last time that either of them had to decide between paying the mortgage and putting food on the table. For that matter, when was the last time that any of the members of Congress had to deal with that scenario?
What I find so irritating about politics today is that it requires money. It is all about money. How many middle-class individuals can take months off from work to campaign? Those of us who can really identify with the general populace could never afford to run for office. I have bills to pay, and financial responsibilities that require me to maintain a full-time job. It would be virtually impossible for me to run for political office.
So, that leaves us with the question: "Which millionaire do you vote for?" It's not as if either candidate has a clue what it is really like to be living as middle-class, or even in poverty. They make decisions based on their perception, which, in my humble opinion, is probably skewed. I doubt that the children of either candidate has had to eat the supermarket generic version of Fruit Loops because it was cheaper than the real thing.
Furthermore, I think that gap between the general populace and the politicians widens with each year that they are in office. If you have ever listened to a Congressman who has been in office for ten or more years, you can usually tell how out of touch they have become with their constituency. My guess is that the longer that they stay in Congress, the more they loose touch with what it is like to work for a living.
I think one of the things that is forgotten in politics today is the fact that it was never meant to be a career. I'm no expert historian, but I believe that the founding fathers meant for these political positions to be a service to our country, not a career. I think that concept of service to the country is missing in today's political arena. Once in office, members of Congress act as if this is their long term job, from which they plan to retire in twenty or thirty years. I really think that an office in Congress should be something achievable by the every day citizen, not just the rich. Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to tell your children that they could grow up to be the President, and actually believe that it could happen.
I certainly don't want to advocate something that may sound like Communism, but I do think that positions of power need to more easily open to those without money and influence. And, those offices should not be held by the same person indefinitely. Let's get some new blood up on the hill. I think long term politicians loose touch with why they are there in the first place.
There is a politician running for Congress in Pennsylvania who has a good plan. He is advocating that if Congress doesn't pass a budget each year, they don't get paid. The sounds like a good idea. Let's hold the politicians accountable for what they are doing. And let's find ways to make political positions more accessible to those who more resemble the majority than the minority.
I think the comedian Gallagher said it best: "If con is the opposite of pro, then Congress must be the opposite of Progress".