Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Yes, I worked for Republicans but, thankfully, I never became one

By DOUG THOMPSON - A Capitol Hill Blue Commentary
October 23, 2013

Oh, the pain of it all.

Oh, the pain of it all.

A time existed when my professional life revolved around the Republican Party.

In 1981, I took a sabbatical from writing and shooting photos for newspapers to take a job as a press secretary for then Republican Congressman Paul Findley of Illinois.  The plan was to work a couple of years inside government to learn how it worked and then return to newspapers with knowledge that would help me be a better journalist.

Two years turned into seven on Capitol Hill as I moved on from Findley to become chief of staff to another GOP Congressman and then a senior committee staff member for a third.  I also took leaves ot absences during election seasons to work for the 1984 Reagan-Bush Presidential re-election campaign and as a political operative for both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Like too many people who go to Washington with one purpose, I was seduced by the world of politics, the money and the power.  After seven years working on the Hill and in politics, I went on to serve another five years as Vice President of Political Programs for the National Association of Realtors, which at the time was the largest trade association in the country with the biggest political action committee.

Although I was often identified as a Republican — and even served for a time on the visiting faculty of the GOP American Campaign Academy and the Washington Center for Politics and Journalism — I never registered to vote as a Republican, never contributed money to any candidate or political cause and turned down several job offers at the White House and cabinet agencies because I knew I could never pass the political vetting process.

I worked for the Republicans because they paid well.  I looked the other way when it came to the party’s extreme positions.

Yet I cannot, and will not, ever consider my time as a GOP political operative a career highlight or something for which to be proud.  What I learned about the political process in more than a dozen years serves me well as a journalist.  It taught me that political corruption is not limited to a single political party and that no party or political organization puts America ahead of its own interests or selfish agendas.

While both Republicans and Democrats misuse the system for personal and political gain, the problem that turns the entire process into a nightmare is the system itself.  The many, and often seemingly insurmountable problems that this nation faces cannot be traced solely back to one political party or the other.

Republicans stand for values that far too often ignore the wants and needs of the American people but so do Democrats.  Both parties exist to serve moneyed special interests and have no time or need to consider or serve the vast majority of Americans who have neither the money or the connections to exert political influence over their elected — and misnamed — “public servants.”

Replacing one set of political hacks with those from another party can never solve the problem because the problem itself is the very system that serves both sides and any changes to that system must come from those who are serve — and owe their livelihood to — the existing, failed and flawed system.

Needed and necessary change cannot come from within the system.  The system itself must be changed and that change requires dedication, determination and conflict.

Can it happen?  That answer is elusive.  It needs to happen but how remains a question in search of an answer that may scare the hell out of all of us.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Responses to Yes, I worked for Republicans but, thankfully, I never became one

  1. Joe

    October 23, 2013 at 11:42 am

    “Needed and necessary change cannot come from within the system.”
    Didn’t we just get a lesson in what happens when change comes from outside the system? Has that worked out well? Should we just super-size the Tea Party?
    Railing against both sides and advocating throwing all of the bastards out is great bar talk, but ignores most of the messy details.
    Such as: Once all of the bastards are thrown out, how do you manage the transition to a new set of bastards? Or do you just operate with none of the bastards? Anarchy is fun to contemplate in the abstract, but a lot more difficult to actually live with. It is useful to note that there has never been a successful anarchic state in the modern history of the planet.
    It would be useful to understand from those who advocate throwing all of the bastards out, what exactly they intend to do after the big 86 and how they intend to manage it so the country stays together. Not a trivial task, and one that should be thought thru pretty thoroughly before implementing.

  2. Doug Thompson

    October 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    I said the system has to be changed. Without a change in the system it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference how much change you make in the people.

    • Joe

      October 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      “You miss the point, which is not surprising.” Thank you for your analysis, although it does seem a bit outside of your oft-stated parameters for politeness in comments.

      My question remains: How do you change the system in some sort of effective and orderly fashion? Simply asserting that it needs to be changed does not lay out any sort of mechanism for getting it done.

      • Doug Thompson

        October 23, 2013 at 6:45 pm

        Joe, that statement you quoted was from my original reply to you and was taken out. It appeared from the tone of your earlier comment that you felt the point of my column was “throw the bastards out.” I agree that replacing one set of bad elected officials with another is not the answer. What is required, I believe, is a complete overhaul of the system itself. How? I don’t know. I wish I did. I worked within the current system for a long time but I don’t have a clue how to effectively change it for the better. It needs to be changed but how we go about it is still difficult to do when the problem rests with those who benefit so much from the current system.

        • Joe

          October 23, 2013 at 10:09 pm

          I share both your zeal for change and your confusion about what to do about it.
          Clearly, a start is to get the special interest big money out of the picture. The simplest way to start on that is to require TV stations, as a condition of their licensing, to supply ad space for candidates for a nominal fee. The money in campaigns eventually ends up in TV station owner’s pocket, for the most part. No anonymous “donations” or ads that do not clearly identify, by name, whose money paid for it. Not the name of the organization, but the name of the guy that wrote the check.
          Of course, getting even that done is not likely within the current system, as defined by the law and supreme court. Any changes to our system are likely to be incremental, assuming that a coup is not staged. I am not so sure we are not in the middle of a slow-motion coup at the moment, staged by the old confederacy and their Tea-Party enablers.
          So…What to do? Wholesale change of the system will require a lot of Constitutional amendments, a very laborious process and one that is likely to suffer the same fate as comity in the house.
          I don’t completely share your assumption that the people in charge don’t matter as it is all the “systems” fault. We could start by electing reasonable legislators. That is one thing that can be done within the current system, so is a very much shorter-term fix. It will take good people being elected to effect any additional change, so it is a necessary first step.