As of this writing we're still awaiting the final House vote on health care reform, although, with the President's "cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die" executive order promise to Bart Stupak, the outcome seems anticlimactic. It's pretty clear that, by the time you read this, health care reform will be the law of the land.
This past year of the Obama Administration has focused the attention of the American people on the politics of Washington, D. C., like few issues I've ever seen. Politics, it is now plain (if it wasn't before), is the art of getting what you want by whatever means is necessary. Politicians are the players, together with those whom they must either manipulate or own in order to secure their desire ends. At bottom, the goal of all political activity is to secure and retain, if not increase, personal power. Politicians are drunk on power - the sense of importance and the perks and deference that come with power are, for those who have tasted it, too alluring to deny or refuse. Once tasted, power must be acquired by every possible means.
All the deals, compromises, off-line agreements, budget fixes, amendments, and assorted other legislative devices are merely ways of gaining and keeping power. You may say you need that $100 million for a hospital in your state, or that break for the elderly or those affected by natural disaster, but it's really all about you, and what you have to do in order to get the people who ceded their political power to you to allow you to keep it and keep expanding it.
The framework of American politics is just; the practice of it is corrupt, encouraging just about every form of self-serving machination anyone can invent to help make sure that everyone gets what they want by whatever means. The abuses are about equally distributed on both sides of the aisle, because the players on both sides are unable to restrain themselves when power is on the line.
I can't help but feel sad for our country as I watch this dance of drunkards cavorting around the halls of Congress and the White House high-fiving one another for their latest achievement. The process sickens me, yet the only way to change it is to stay in it and try to influence for good at least some of the players, so that matters of truth and goodness will one day, hopefully, supplant matters of mere self-interest.
But don't hold your breath. Politics is not the way to lasting change in this or any nation.
T. M. Moore