This is still our country

In 1981, I took a break from journalism to work as press secretary to then Illinois Congressman Paul Findley. I wanted to spend a few years learning how government worked from the inside.

It didn’t take long to destroy the few illusions I held about government “of the people, for the people and by the people.”

During a strategy meeting, Findley advocated a position that ran counter to what he knew the farmers in his mostly-agriculture district wanted.

“That goes against the wishes of your voters,” I said.

“They’re wrong,” Findley said. “I know more about the issue.”

At that meeting, I made the decision to leave Findley’s staff. I believed then, as I do now, that our elected officials work for us and answer to us.

The following year Findley, a 10-term congressman, lost his re-election bid to Richard Durbin who is now a Senator.

Somewhere along the line, too many of our elected officials forgot the concept that the government of the United States is “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Our founding fathers, tired of rule by an English King who tried to impose his will on the people, envisioned a government that answers to the wishes of the majority.

When our leaders defy the will of the people, they chip away at the foundation of an American democratic republic. President George W. Bush says he’s “the decider.” That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work. The people are “the deciders.” Presidents and Congress are supposed to the “enforcers” of the decisions of the people.

Arizona Senator John McCain’s faltering presidential campaign is the latest example of what happens when an elected official thinks his opinion supersedes the will of the people. McCain, like Bush, admits openly that he “doesn’t care what the American people think” when it comes to the Iraq war.

He should care. By not caring, his campaign is sinking faster than Bush’s approval ratings. The people care and they are tired of elected leaders who put their agendas ahead of the folks who put them in office and who have the power to remove them.

The Republican leadership of Congress forgot it worked for the people and the people rose up and voted them out of office.

Polls show an overwhelming majority of American people believe Bush’s Iraq policy is a miserable failure. They want a quick end to a war they now know should never have been waged. They want American soldiers home and out of harm’s way.

But the President of the United States believes he, as the “commander in chief,” answers to no one – not the American people, not the Congress of the United States and not even the law of the land.

By sharing that attitude, McCain lost whatever chance he may or may not have had to become President. Americans have had it with “deciders.”

Yet the dwindling few who continue to support the war policies of Bush and McCain claim ignoring the will of the people is a sign of leadership, not failure.

I disagree. It is not leadership to ignore the will of a majority in a democratic form of government. It is an abdication of the oath that every President and every member of Congress swears when they promise to uphold the Constitution.

It is not leadership to conceal facts from the American public and Congress and offer up, instead, falsehoods to justify what is now recognized as both an illegal and immoral war in Iraq. It is an outright commission of “high crimes and misdemeanors” that qualifies as grounds for removal from office.

It is not leadership to put partisan political agendas above what is best for the nation. It is a violation of trust and breaking of promises made to the people who made the mistake of putting political partisans into positions of power.

Despite the best efforts of our leaders to usurp a government “of the people, by the people and for the people,” we the people still have the final say.

An ever-increasing number of we the people expressed our anger in last November’s mid-term elections. That anger is growing and we will show it again at the polls in November 2008.

Let this be a warning to Hillary, Rudy, Barack, Mitt and all the other Presidential wannabes.

This is our country.

We own it.

You don’t.

Comments

  1. Razor

    Yes, Ron Paul is the man for the job. Too bad he won’t make it. Why not? He is not one of the corrupt insiders.
    He is honest and sincere and believes in the constitution.

    Only the corrupt gets a shot in this country. This is not still our country, Sorry Doug, your delusional. If it was,
    we would not be the joke of the world today, would we?

    If it was still our country, why does Israel say they own america? Ane why does congress favor Israel over America?
    And why do American Taxpayers give billions to a nation
    that is illegally occupying another nation and oppressing them? If it was still our country, why was the constitution gutted and our rights stiffled? No, it was
    our country but we got stupid and lost it. The United Nations owns the National Parks Now. Most Toll Roads are owned by Spain. And don’t forget that China holds more of this countries wealth than the citizens. They just haven’t told you Doug. You’ll find out when they take your house.

  2. Ray

    Yes, Ron Paul IS the only candidate who has an excellent voting record, who honestly believes in a constitutional government, a smaller government, and a sensible foreign policy. He believes in ending lobby influence. He has a fair and sensible immigration strategy. He listens to and follows his constituants wishes. Truely, this man is americas only choice for recovery from the folleys of the elitists who prevail. Isn’t it time to vote responsibly instead of party loyalty or for the one who gets the most bribe money? When voters decide from nothing but main stream media hype, they do a great injustice to themselves and to the nation. When will voters learn that truth is self evident and bullsh*t can be bought. Support the candidate that can reclaim sensible governing and honest representation of the voters.

  3. Joseph Bergrath

    I wish that all of you fine people would check out Dr. Ron Paul. He is running for president as a republican. Google him please. He has the best voting record in congress. I think he is our only hope to restore the USA to it’s former glory.

    There is hope but we must unite and get the word out. The internet can change the world.

  4. Thomas Bonsell

    And I get tired of people saying “we are a republic, not a democracy.” That statement suggests lack of understanding. “Republic” indicates form. “Democracy” indicates substance.

    Remember Nazi German was a republic, the Soviet Union was a republic and communist China today is a republic.

    The difference was substance. We are a republic form of government based on democratic principles. Nazi Germany was a republican form of government based on fascist “principles.” The Soviet Union was a republican form of government based on Lenin’s interpretation of Marxist principles and modern China in a republican form of government based on Mao’s interpretation of Lenin’s interpretation of Marxist principles as amended by the modern Chinese Communist Party.

    Get it? Contrasting “Republic” and “Democracy” is foolish. They are of different genre but can, and preferable should, exist in unison. We have democratic substance because all powers come from the people and a republican form because people’s representatives exercise those powers.

    Amen.

  5. Elmo

    We elect congressvarmints to represent us. When they assume office, we hope that they will use their best judgment to act on our behalf. We do not elect the Harris Poll or any other opinion survey — that comes at the end of the congresscritter’s term when we get to vote again.

    The place where the system is broken is not there, it’s in the part where only the party regulars get to appear on the ballot. Ballot/schmallot — what is needed is a blank piece of paper where voters have to write down the name. Only then will the elections be fair and only then will we be able to get out from under the tyranny of our one-party-with-two-faces political system. And I don’t give a rat’s ass _how_ long it might take to count those ballots.

  6. neondesert

    Suggesting that term limits will limit the representatives’ lobbying connections sounds good, but will more than likely only lead to an underground of political party “directors” who wield the power. Political power is not owned by individuals, but groups. Hiring a new figurehead for these covert power-mongers every 4 years or so will never cut the umbilical connection of those with money to the policy-makers in our government. It would only force it further underground, and consequently make it even more powerful.

    And I think the last decade or so has shown us that we couldn’t rely on the media to expose any of it.

  7. C. Nemo

    e: Warren…A Democratic Republic and not a pure Democracy?

    We weren’t founded as a Democratic Repubic either, but as a Constitutional Representative based Republic. What’s happened in the past two hundred years is that a lazy-thoughted electorate has let a two party system devolve into precisely as described, two wolves; i.e., Republicans and Democrats deciding how they are going to eat us, “we the sheeple”…! We don’t send statesmen/women to D.C. we send duplicit, lying future-thugs that become instant “republicrats” once they get their indoctrination as to how things operate in the nations capitol. Yes, Virginia freshmen congressmen/women get indoctrinated. They learn quickly that they best play by certain fundamental rules or they aren’t going to be able to land on any of the choice committees, allowing them to shovel “pork tribute” back home to their brain-dead, shopaholic constituents. Their incumbency will not be insured either because the sheeple backhome are addicted to those “pulled pork sandwiches”…:(

    We need all offices reduced to a single term wich will turn the representative based “compost heap” on a regular basis, including the Executive branch. Also all lobbying and influence peddling needs to be outlawed. The only influence peddlers our elected reps should be listening to are the folks that sent them to D.C. I rest my case and thanks for bringing up the point that we are a Republic and not a Democracy. I get so tired of our elected leaders yapping at a mike that we are a Democracy…?! 8-|

  8. SEAL

    I think some of us have forgotten that the founders created a document that, as long as it exists, provides the people the power to control what happens to them. Destruction of the Constitution is the only way that (legal) power could be taken away from us.

    It is up to us to enforce our authority. Surely everyone must realize that no one in government is going to do it for us. There will be no knight in shining armor comming to save us. This is not a fairy tale, it’s reality. It must be the voice and the actions of the common man and woman that restores The United States Of America to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    However, I think we should not procrastinate much longer. Day by day it is becoming more evident that our window of opportunity is closing. Our first priority is to make the common man and woman realize there is no alternative, they must act soon, if they wish to preserve their liberty.

  9. dougthompson

    A comment calling another poster names along with a reply to it have been removed.

    We discuss issues here. We do not insult other members of the CHB community. If you want to call other people names try Democratic Underground or Free Republic.

    They welcome that kind of behavior. We do not.

  10. Thomas Bonsell

    Sometimes the “will of the people” should be ignored by elected representatives (okay, this idiot war isn’t one of those times) because the people can be just as ignorant and out of touch with reality as are the politicians.

    It has been shown over and over again that if the people had their way, the Bill of Rights would be long gone. The “will of the people” is often reflected in widespread support for police criminality and of constitutional subversion. Remember, the will of the people was more than 90% supportive of George Bush just after 9/11, even though those of us in the remaining 9% knew we had a Mortimer Snerd in the White House. The will of the people supported the invasion of Iraq, and would still be supportive if Mortie hadn’t screwed it up.

    An elected officials first priority is to do what is best or the nation, state, city or society, even if it means the “will of the people” be damned.

  11. Sorry. Perhaps this once was a democratic republic but it hasn’t been for quite some time.
    One by one, nails have been driven into the coffin, and the final nails are now in place.
    In the coffin lies our republic. Franklin admonished us to keep it but it has been replaced by a corporate fascist plutocracy.
    Enjoy your police state, America.
    By both sin of omission, sin of apathy and of ignorance you have allowed to be given away the last vestiges of liberty without so much as a whimper.

  12. vietnam vet

    Doug, as always I enjoy reading your articles because a lot of truth in it. But i feel, as so many others, our words need to be put into action. Enough Talk. Lets Act!!

  13. Warren

    We don’t live in a pure Democracy. Thank goodness. Our founding fathers hated kings, but they also understood the pitfalls of pure democracy. “Two wolves and a sheep going out and deciding what’s for lunch.” Instead, they instituted a democratically elected Republic. The idea being that the electorate hires (elects) statesmen who will study the issues and act in their best interest. Sometimes action that is in the best interest of the electorate as a whole will not be what the majority immediately perceives. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. Otherwise, down that hatch with the sheep.

    But, we do run into problems. The system is based on an assumption that the elected statesmen are acting in good faith in the best interests of their electorate and not feathering their own beds. When those statesmen start lying and putting their own interests first, and a complicit press perpetuates the lies and creates majority opinions based on lies, we have a big problem.

    Rejoice that we do not have a pure democracy. Elect statesmen who work in the best interests of their electorate. And know the truth about your government, not the lies. That’s why CHB is on my reading list.

  14. Sonorous pest

    Several days ago I mentioned to my wife that there is a possibliity of Civil war in our country or the possibility that States would suscede from the union. Well Civil War has not broken out “yet” but one state has claimed that it may sucede from the union and that state is Vermont. If this happens could a dominio effect be far behind??

    What we need is the removal of Cheney and Bush Now, not in Jan. 09. This wrecking crew can and will cause a lot more damage in the time thay have left. They could declare Martial Law and stay inpower long after a new president is elected, unless it is a Republican.

  15. Wayne K Dolik

    The sooner we wake up and realize that, there are some traitorous people in both of our major political parties, the sooner we can fix our democracy. There is a growing cancer in America ands its right here and not “over there”. Americans need to stop being suckers.

  16. Gerald Sutliff

    Dear Doug,

    Well said but I have a quibble: You wrote “That’s not the way democracy is supposed to work.” May I add that if it doesn’t work that way then it’s not a democracy; it’s time “we the people’ woke up.
    Keep up the good work.

  17. Carl Nemo

    Doug…this is one of your best ever editorials! I enjoyed your description of Findley with his “decider syndrome”. America is in a real fix because there’s no shortage of these arrogant elitists in the House and the Senate, not including the Executive branch. In fact I’ll go one step beyond and say many if not most are sociopaths, possibly criminally so! So this psychological abberation merged with a NWO globalist agenda puts America in harms way. They are scheming on how to screw “we the people” 24/7/365!

    They pitch scraps of pork back to their “groundling” constituents in Mayberry, but while in D.C. do exactly as you’ve outlined concerning Findley. Yeah he was out the following year, but he spent most of 20+ years doing insidious micro-damage to the Republic with his style of legislating no doubt. If he were alone we’d have some chance of turning it around, but 90 percent plus that land in D.C. climb onboard the NWO/MIC/AIPAC et. al. globalist agenda. Those that don’t play the game will not end up on choice committee’s and their incumbency will be short-lived. So it’s a self-perpetuating RICO level enterprise; i.e., continuing criminal enterprise, no different than the mafia, and corporate thugs. All of them and I mean everyone needs to be chucked out of office and never given a second term. If they won’t legislate serious term limits than the American electorate can create one by simply making it societally axiomatic that they will never re-elect the same clown twice if they show the slightest tendency to legislate as “deciders” rather than facilitators of the electorate they represent needs. Once people send someone to D.C. they need to watch how they vote on issues. I’ll provide a link so folks can do so. Freedom is not free! The price of freedom is eternal Vigilance…Thomas Jefferson

    http://www.congress.org/congressorg/home/
    The listed link will allow one to sign up for an email alert that will show you how your elected reps vote on the issues. You’ll even be amazed at how often they don’t vote at all?! It’s imperative that you keep track of their voting record. Folks will be stunned how their elected reps backstab them more often than not.
    Also make it a habit to call your reps offices on important issues or all issues for that matter. Keep their office links available as a shortcut on your desktop so they are only a click away from making phone contact. The cheapest way to make the call is using 10-10-987. It’s only 3 cents per minute. Hopefully one values their freedom and the welfare of their homeland for the price of a pennies per minute…no?! **==

  18. Steven Horn

    I enjoyed reading your article quite a bit. Bush, Cheney, Rove and many others currently working in or around politics in America have no idea of what a leader is. They lack the courage to take strong stands, to build support and consensus and to really lead – to really do the jobs they were elected to do.
    Bush is, in my mind, the weakest president our nation has ever had. He does not respect the constitution, which he’s sworn to uphold and defend on at least three occasions (when he entered the military and once for each presidency) – he never lived up to that oath as his military and political “service” have shown.
    I refuse to hop on the “America is dead” bandwagon – like you and many others I know that WE can save our nation from these sordid ceasars who would steal it from us. In order to do this, however, we need to drive apathy from the American frame of mind, we need to inspire active political participation. We need to hold our leaders accountable for their actions or inactions, and we need to apply constant pressure to ensure that they are, indeed, doing our will and not their own (or that of their biggest corporate sponsors).
    In short, we need to be Americans. Proud, strong and united, to save this nation of ours.

    Peace

    Steve

  19. This country has always belonged to incompetent and thoughtless deciders. But, it doesn’t really belong to them either does it? They just think it is so.