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Plain and Simple for Jan. 30, 2014
SoVaNow.com / January 30, 2014Virginia has finally hit the big leagues; we have a governor who has been indicted for a felony—or several of them. Since we are so close to New Jersey, we still have a ways to go to catch up, but we are trying. Still, I am not one who is secretly rejoicing that Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, have been brought up on charges. If anything, I am deeply saddened.
What bothers me most by the whole debacle is that it appears that McDonnell and his wife were basically good people who got caught up in living beyond their means. If there is anything that I can identify with, that is surely it. Of course, I could be snide and point out that Gov. McDonnell spent a lot of time lecturing the poor about living within their means while galloping outside his, but let’s play nice. The crux of the matter is that this speaks to the problem that it is becoming almost impossible for a person who is not independently wealthy to survive serving in political office.
We have always in this country glorified the idea that any person could run for office and, if qualified, be elected and serve. That is becoming less and less plausible. You need money to run and you need money to serve. If you accept money to get elected, people expect payback. Once in office, there is a certain appearance you are expected to maintain. There are always people around who are willing to help you maintain that appearance but they want to get a little something for that help.
We people in the street decry the politician who is bought and paid for but are we willing to make changes to ensure that does not happen? If you want a better understanding of the political process, I recommend the old classic, All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren. It dramatically underscores how we expect so much from our politicians that we turn a blind eye to how they give it to us until we discover they are stealing from our pockets.
I do not have an answer for this problem but we must recognize that one exists. How can someone like Eric Cantor (R-VA) go to Davos and eat with the rich and powerful and not be influenced? Was he already inclined to cut unemployment benefits? The poor do not have the means to wine and dine our congressional representatives. We must be the conscience for the nation and, in the process, perhaps save good people like Gov. McDonnell and his wife.
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