We Must Raise The Bar

© St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Tad Armstrong

Too many Americans have come to accept corruption in politics as the standard – business as usual – something to be expected in our political leaders if we want them to get anything done for us back home. In Illinois, the recent (and not so recent) past has shown that one cannot get elected to the office of Governor unless he has credentials that foretell of a likely future felony conviction.

In some ways, it’s hard to fault human nature, for the last time I checked, we humans all possess that same “nature” that leans toward abuse of power if given the opportunity by regulators asleep on the job. The framers knew full well that ignorance and apathy in the electorate would be the single-greatest enemy of our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. The fault for a near standardless government lies with us. We got lazy and expected that government would work if we continued to feed it on tax day. From my vantage point, the conservative movement is about making sure that “We, the People” start running the show again. But, Republicans take heed. If you get the chance to restore integrity to government this November and you fail, these same Americans will then set out to make you the next “third party.” From what I can tell, this movement is about restoring integrity to a system that no one who is not a part of the problem actually believes is working. (I’m talking 20M spent on signs by politicians telling us how great they are doing in tackling government waste!)

Timely examples of a near standardless government are never hard to find. Rep. Charlie Rangel comes to mind. My respect for due process will not permit a premature conviction on 13 charges of violating “congressional ethics,” an oxymoron if there ever was one. The charges boil down to a potpourri of conflicts of interest motivated by a thirst for power and money in Swamp Pelosi. And, let’s not forget recent charges brought against Rep. Maxine Waters and investigations pending against 7 Republicans and 5 additional Democrats alleging (surprise – surprise) conflicts of interest motivated by a thirst for power and money.

Most professions of trust require extensive education and successful completion of one or more examinations before acquiring a license to operate. And, that license typically comes with the promise of termination of that hard won privilege if found guilty of violating very high ethical standards. Members of the House of Representatives need only be 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States (natural born or naturalized) for 7 years and an “inhabitant” of the State they represent “when elected.” No education, no ability to count money on the expense side of the ledger, and no examination required. The only license necessary is enough money and the ability to persuade one more voter than “the other guy” that you are the one to be trusted with the job.

Most of us wouldn’t trust the health of our family to a physician with so few proven qualities, yet we trust our very freedom to persons with little to no real credentials. And, if they abuse their power, they still get the chance to persuade us to re-elect them time and time again. I don’t know if Charlie Rangel is guilty. I do know that 40 years is too long.

So, what standards should we, as a people, demand? Some are calling for Rep. Rangel to “resign with dignity.” Balderdash! The man should either be proven guilty and expelled or be acquitted and then realize it is time to call it quits in style when this term is over. In my estimation, a resignation under fire can only be “dignified” if an admission of wrongdoing on the way out is attached, unlike the “I’m no crook” exit of President Nixon. Politicians who call for resignation don’t care about Charlie Rangel. They care only about their own chances of re-election amidst the atmosphere of an ethics trial. Politics as usual. Hats off to Rep. Bobby Bright (D-Ala.) who has the integrity to call for expulsion if convicted.

The Washington Post predicts, however, that neither Rangel nor Waters will be forced to resign “even if they are found guilty of breaking ethics rules.” These are the standards that sustain bottom feeders in the swamp – the standards set by a nation doomed to fail. Surely we respect the price of freedom won by those who have gone before us enough to engage in the hard work necessary to raise the bar.


  1. Roy Miller says:

    Why is it when one is in power it just goes to their head. They think that they can’t get caught. I glad you mentioned Ex President Nixon, but there have been scores on both sides of the party. That’s why you’ll never see a poor man become president again, as we did during the 1800’s. An election millions that person that won has just got to repay those favors, the public be aware. That’s why I side with President Obama on his comments about the Supreme Court changing the ruling on Corporations providing funds to candidates. We’ll never see an honest man or woment elected again. One other thing, I think you hint on it Congress, Senate, and Supreme Court Justices should have term limits. I agree 40 years in Congress is too long. Why would someone makeing millions a year would spend millions on a compaign for a job that only pays several thousands? POWER.