Politics! Now there's a topic for you!
I've been very disgusted, fed-up to the gills, for a long time now pertaining to issues political, regardless of party affiliations. Add that to the mix and it does little to quell the anger that has built inside me for many years now concerning our governmental officials.
Aside from the stance each party tends to take on hot-button issues such as abortion, the war, stem-cell research, all too often both parties tend to blend into a pattern of sameness, overall -corruption.
Ethics appear to be something totally unheard of any more. Ok, I'm not so sure they were ever a big part of the political process for many, many years now though but maybe it was simply my own naivette that made me feel these people used to be more ethical than they are today.
I am sick of the war issues. My own personal view is that until we have the democratic system working so well here in the good old USA that ALL our citizens - regardless of race, sex, religion, economic status - have what is truly "Equal Opportunity" - we have no business whatsoever in trying to foist our beliefs onto another group -i.e., country, such as Iraq.
The fact I don't believe we have any business being in Iraq at all has nothing to do with whether or not I support our troops who are there doing the job that our government, in its esteemed wisdom has seen fit to send them to try to do. I'm tired of people pointing fingers, accusing those who believe as I do that this is not our place as being unpatriotic.
And, judging by some comments that float from time to time on the message boards of a writer's group I belong to online, I am not alone in my thoughts about many of these issues.
The war, abortion, gun control, stem-cell research are all issues on the national level. But, here in Pennsylvania, we have had some mighty big issues spewing out for the past 15, almost 16 months now that initially were thought to be things that would die out in the public eye in short order, but have remained there in the minds of many within the Commonwealth.
A year ago - on July 7, 2005 - the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted a truly handsome pay raise for themselves, and in it, they included the members of the judiciary as well as some workers within the Executive branch of the state's government.
This pay raise, which gave all legislators an increase of over $11,000 per year - an increase that was higher than what a worker earning minimum wage could earn in a year's time - was also wrangled around so that the legislators could take the increase in their pay immediately through a system referred to as "Unvouchered expenses" and a very large number of the members of the General Assembly did just that - helped themselves to this increase although the State's Constitution firmly states that no increase in pay should be permitted during one's term in office.
The furor that broke loose from this self-designated pay raise has been awesome, to say the least. During the November elections of 2005, the anger swelled to a point where the people voted out one state level judge and almost dumped the other state judge running for reappointment to ten-year terms. It was then that the legislators decided maybe this pay raise hadn't been a very well thought out plan and they repealed the pay raise but those who had taken the raise were never forced to pay back the money they had been receiving illegally. Although some representatives and senators did pledge to stop taking the pay raise and to repay what they had received to the state treasury, many others continued to take the raise and made no efforts whatsoever to make a repayment to the treasury.
The representative of the district where I live as well as the state senator who represents my region both took the raise and neither one has made any effort to repay these ill-gotten moneies to the state. Furthermore, neither has ever offered any explanation for their actions - or inactions - either.
About two weeks after the pay raise took place, a gentleman from Lebanon County set up a website, called it PACleansweep.com and it became a sounding board for much of the anger and unrest within the state about not just the pay raise issue but also a call to reform for other ways the legislators were skirting around the Constitution, requests for actions to be taken to change the tax system within the state pertaining primarily to individual property taxes, funding for the state's educational system and many other concerns about our state's government.
The battle cry, if you will, became "Vote out all incumbents" and "Time for a Clean Sweep" in Harrisburg. And I was one who took those slogans to heart and come next Tuesday when I go to the polls to vote, I will staunchly refuse to vote for any incumbent on the ballot whether it be for a state house/senate office or for the U.S. Congress or Senate either!
I have to confess I would not have voted to re-elect Senator Santorum to Washington, nor would I have voted to re-elect Rep. George to Harrisburg -such was my dislike of both of those politicians, but I probably would still have voted for others to be retained. Not so now though! I firmly believe now that the only way anything will be changed in our government is to remove those who vote for things primarily from a self-interest point of view and not one which is truly beneficial to the entire population of the state.
Governor Rendell will not get my vote because he approved the pay raise bill even though he did say he would not accept any raise in his pay in doing this. I might have considered voting for Lynn Swann, the Republican opponent to Rendell if it hadn't been for the way the Republican party, under the very watchful eye of many who had rigged the setting for the pay raise to begin with, had carefully selected Mr. Swann to be their standard bearer and not given any sway towards considering another person - William Scranton - as a potential challenger to Rendell. My theory there was they felt with Swann they would be able to still remain in control of what he might do if actually elected to office whereas Scranton would not have been one who they could have used in the same manner. In other words, Swann would enable "Business as usual." The fact that prior to the GOP's selection of Swann, he had made no firm statements of his particular plans for running the state didn't exactly help my attitude towards him as a potential candidate either.
To listen to the many ads on tv this fall in the gubernatorial race, one would think that Rendell has been virtually a saint while in his term of office and that he has done wonders - especially in the claim that he has led the political charge in Harrisburg for "REFORM" of our state governmental system. Balderdash! Rendell has never made a single move towards any type of reform prior to the pay raise and certainly not since, other than to make this false claim in the political ads for this election!
What a farce our elected officals are when Rep. Folay, from Florida, who was Mr. High and Mighty in his claim to fame for leading the way to legislature that would try to curb issues with sexual predators and yet he gets caught up in a self-made scandal for trying to solicit sexual favors from the Pages in Congress. What a joke! Where the heck are his ethics? What could he possibly have been thinking via his actions anyway? Boggles the mind, it does the lack of sheer morals so many of these people have doesn't it?
Scandals throughout various state governments, in Washington with the lobby system and bribes and such, outright theft and none of these people get sent away to the hooosegow where they belong and where you and I would have been put long ago had we tried to pull off some of the same type scams as they have been caught doing.
So, if anyone has any questions about how my votes will be cast next week, just look to see who is the incumbent and who is the challenger and you will have your answer - an automatic "Cleansweep!" is my agenda on November 8th!
Since Pennsylvania has a terrible system in place for access to the ballot - the gubernatorial candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties only needed 2,000 signatures to get on the ballot while any other individual wishing to run in that race was required to get at least 67,000 signatures to get on the ballot makes this race one that, since I don't care for either the democrat or republican in the running, I will be forced to do a write-in vote or simply do as some have suggested - write in N.O.T.A - standing for No acceptable candidate. (No, that isn't the exact wording there of what NOTA stands for but it is what it means.) I don't like who the democrats or the republicans have offered as a choice so therefore I am voting but for none of the above!
The whole system is in dire need of change, of reform. Some in PA say that the Constitution needs revised too. I don't think things need to go to that extreme of calling a statewide constitutional convention because our constititution as written is fine and dandy. But there needs to be a better means of actually putting it to work, in the manner in which it was initially intended!
The politicians and media all attribute a lot of the problem to voter apathy and yes, that is probably a good part of this but, with people who are in office who have the financial clout to see that they can stay there too and no little guy has a chance of the snowball in hell to even get on the ballot much less run a decent challenge to an incumbent, it does give many folks that theory of why bother to vote anyway!
This is the time when everyone should go to the polls and cast the all-important vote. Yes, one vote can make a difference but it has to be there on election day for that to happen.
So, regardless of how ineffectual you may think your vote may be, don't stay home on Tuesday. Get out and do your part and VOTE!
Even if it is just to say N.O.T.A. None of these options are acceptable!