Saturday, February 22, 2003

What difference does it make?
It makes none. I was reminded of these Smiths' lyrics while watching John Edwards speak to the DNC just now on CSPAN. Edwards was castigating the Bush admininstration for its ties to special interest groups and making the point that America needed a President who cared and worked for the average American.

I couldn't agree more, but I am not convinced that that person will come from the Democratic Party anymore than I believe in ghosts. Sure, the Party talks a good game about being for the powerless and voiceless. However different the Democratic Party is from the Republican Party on policies, there is no fundamental difference in their politics and governing strategies. Just as the GOP relies on certain interest groups for campaign support, so does the Democratic Party. And while our special interests might be different, they are hardly the powerless or voiceless. Unions and trial lawyers call the tune in Democratic politics. And, the last time I checked union bosses and trial lawyers were doing fairly well.

The GOP plays to Wall Street while we play to K Street. Does that make us any better? Are we somehow morally superior because, at least in theory, we pander to more liberal groups? I would argue that we are equally as morally repugnant as the Republicans. We allow ourselves to be dictated to by a narrow range of special interest groups while the concerns of the average American are largely ignored.

JFK said, "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." America's working and middle classes have been doing for their country for decades while wealthy elites, both liberal and conservative, have drained public resources and abused society's goodwill. Well connected interest groups have lined their pockets with the public treasury and saddled the private sector with bad policy. Whether it be the crony capitalists of the Bush administration or the trial lawyers who, like Edwards, have stood in the way of tort reform.

Elections are nothing more than an exercise in determining who is worse and then pulling the other lever. Voters have to decide which special interests come closer to their own beliefs. No one is presented with a genuine alternative. Someone who will rise above the narrow special interests and really work for ALL Americans.

Yet, we wonder why less than half of all eligible voters even bother to go to the polls. This in a country that just over 200 years ago fought for the freedom to govern ourselves. Back then we were ruled by a distant, unelected monarchy. Today, we are ruled by an unelected, distant oligrachy of special interests. So what difference does it make?


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