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It’s the system, stupid

By Doug Thompson
June 15, 2006

Partisan political thought has become so ingrained in today’s mindset that the concept of independence is disregarded as a matter of course.

That partisanship, I believe, breeds corruption and allows it to thrive. Unfortunately, because partisanship is so dominant in today’s political environment, any chance of cleaning up the system is lost.

"There is no doubt in my mind that political partisanship is at an all time high," says a longtime GOP operative. "It permeates and pollutes every attempt at rational public debate. It destroys any chance of compromise, coalition-building or resolution."

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, easily one of the most corrupt, divisive men to ever serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, defended partisanship in his parting shot before leaving Congress last week.

After noting that departing members of Congress usually talk about the "good old days’ of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie," DeLay put on his best snake-oil smile and said "I can’t do that."

And he didn’t.

"You show me a nation without partisanship, and I’ll show you a tyranny,’" DeLay said. `"For all its faults, it is partisanship — based on core principles — that clarifies our debates, that prevents one party from straying too far from the mainstream, and that constantly refreshes our politics with new ideas and new leaders."

DeLay called disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff a close friend and said he admired his passion for conservative causes – a sad commentary on the crook who has come to symbolize the corruption of money and power in official Washington.

DeLay’s tirades prompted a dozen Democrats to walk out of the House chamber during his speech.  While their anger is easily understood, their actions were just another case of partisan hotdogging in a political system where bitter partisanship destroys any chance of positive action, reform or effective legislation.

"A large part of (DeLay’s) legacy will be a culture of corruption that he built here in the Congress of the United States," says Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

True but Pelosi hasn’t proven she is all that interested in cleaning up her own party. She waited until the G-men raided the office of corrupt Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana and found 90 grand in bribes hidden in the freezer of his home before "asking" Jefferson to step down from a powerful committee post.  She sat on her butt and did nothing about the scams and shady dealings of West Virginia Democrat Alan Mollohan, an Ethics Committee member, until a delegation from her own party forced her to take action. And she has yet to do anything about Corrine Brown, the Florida Congresswoman who defrauded business partners, lied to the IRS and Congress, filled out false financial disclosure forms and accepted bribes to fatten her wallet and lifestyle.

Partisan success is based on power and power draws corrupt men and women to politics like maggots to a rotting corpse.

Tom DeLay is a sleazeball of epic proportions and the hypocritical sendoff that his fellow Republicans gave him last week was sickening proof of just how much they accept such sleaze in their midst. His replacement, Ohio’s John Boehner, is a fast-talking, double-dealing, bribe-taking con-artist who lives large at taxpayer expense.

But the Democrats can’t take the high road when it comes to ethics or honesty. Pelosi jets about the country on corporate jets and takes vacations at lobbyist’s expense. So does her counterpart in the Senate, Harry Reid, the bag-man for Nevada’s gambling bosses. Pelosi may take decisive action against Jefferson this week but some of her fellow Democrats want her to back off, saying it will look racial is she ousts the African-American congressman from the bayou.

Corruption, greed and a lust for power controls the political system in this nation and that system serves both parties in their mad dash to the hog trough to slop up the pork.

Corruption did not arrive in Washington when the Republicans took over in 1994 or when George W. Bush arrived in 2000.  It already had a home and has thrived over decades of acceptance by both Democrats and Republicans.

And corruption will not pack up and leave if Democrats regain control of Congress in November. The players will change and a different set of money changers will become power brokers on K Street. We may see some cosmetic changes at the start but the system will soon regain control. Votes will be bought, power will be brokered and principles will take a hike.

Corruption will win. It always has. It always will.