Abraham Lincoln was one of the great leaders who had a knack for speaking about important ideas and principles in terms we can all understand. His most famous line is the one that says, "government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish." A close runner-up in the wisdom of Abe is that, "you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time." Here we have the ideological parentheses of a true idealist who was also a hard nosed, competent political realist. America’s greatness has come about largely because we have had, up till now, competent presidents who were also true idealists holding office in times of crisis. Mt. Rushmore plus, F.D.R. and Harry Truman about sum it up.
The key words in the above paragraph are "up till now." There is no one past the age of belief in the tooth fairy who does not have a sense that we are in some precarious situations in both our state’s affairs and our national affairs. Both levels of government are attempting to deal with serious social and economic problems which are made more complicated by environmental issues and international complications. (Luckily, Vermont does not need a foreign policy, although rumor has it that our governor spends a lot of time on secret missions to the Caribbean.)
In last week’s Banner, the comic strip "Shoe" summed up our current political processes in a nutshell by borrowing one of Lincoln’s quotes. One character giving a political speech says, "you can fool some of the people all of the time." His aide remarks, "that’s the group we are focusing on." This mentality is where the contempt comes in. At the state level we have evolved to a one party political system. Democrats control the elected offices with absolute majorities which in turn gives them control over the appointed commissions that administer our laws.
The most obnoxious example of contempt for the voters is the governor’s refusal to even discuss the question of how the state will finance the $2 billion single payer health system mandated for 2017. This plan may, or may not, be a good thing. The issue here is that the legislature passed a law requiring the governor to produce a financial plan by January of 2013. Research was paid for and information given to the governor. He has so far refused to release any of this on the grounds of "executive privilege," thus violating the law he signed himself.
So far, the Democratic majority has not questioned their leader. In fact, only one legislator, Cynthia Browning, a Democrat who represents Sunderland, Manchester, Sandgate and Arlington, has openly protested Shumlin’s disregard for the law. Since the rest of the legislature is sitting on their hands, she has filed a lawsuit in state court to force the governor to comply with the law. Her colleagues should all be ashamed of themselves for sharing the governor’s contempt for the voters.
On the federal level the contempt for our intelligence is even worse. The Democrat Senate leadership and President Obama, supported by an obedient mainstream news media, act as if there is a one-party government. They ignore the Republican majority in the House of Representatives and disregard the significance that 29 states have elected Republican governors.
The Obamites have devised a strategy of government in which Republicans are not permitted to participate in any meaningful legislation, other than budget resolutions required by law. The Senate routinely refuses to even consider bills sent to it from the House. This allows the president to assume authority to rule by executive order that in many cases is arguably illegal. However, all criticisms and attempts to challenge his actions are labeled as "political posturing" and dismissed as irrelevant. Any skepticism of the Affordable Care Act or desire to hold the Internal Revenue Service accountable for attempting to squelch non-sympathetic organizations, and, of course, the need to understand why and how things became a tragedy as well as a national shame in Benghazi fall into this category. I’m out of space to explore further, please stay tuned for Part II!
Weiland Ross is a Banner columnist.