If you can’t do the job, you don’t get to keep it

When I thought about what to write for my first post, the answer was obvious – the biggest issue in politics today is corruption. I’ve been working in and following politics for nearly 15 years and the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that (most of the time) government doesn’t work for the people. And I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat, Republican, third party supporter, independent, or uninterested – the way we make decisions (or don’t) is making everyone miserable.

When most people hear the word corruption, I bet they’re imagining mustache twirling villains handing over briefcases full of money to men in suits. While that still happens, that’s not really what I’m talking about.

Part of the $90,000 found in then-Congressman William Jefferson’s freezer during a law enforcement search of his residence; this particular bundle was wrapped in aluminum foil and concealed inside the pie crust box at right. (FBI.gov)

What I’m talking about is how we seem to keep running into the same problems, year after year – jobs that don’t pay enough, the cost of living rising every year, traffic that keeps getting worse and large companies that seem to have more control over our lives – without getting to any real solutions while our representatives keep getting re-elected.

Data from OpenSecrets.org

Do you know any job where you can fail to do what you were hired to do and keep getting paid? That’s Congress. And it’s not just a DC problem. According to Ballotpedia, a crowd sourced Wiki-like platform, in November 2018, 4,483 out of 4,952 state legislative incumbents were re-elected. That’s a re-election rate of over 90%. On average, between 2010 and 2016, just under 80% of incumbents were re-elected.

When I say corruption, I mean that we are stuck in a world where politicians are able to win re-election without solving real problems and we think that’s normal. That’s a corrupted system if I ever saw one.

In one of the best comics (later animated movie) I’ve ever come across, Ra’s Al Guhl hacks Batman’s computer and discovers Batman’s plans to immobilize the members of the Justice League in case they ever go rogue. With Batman’s help, the heroes are able to regroup and stop Guhl, but not before they decide to question Batman’s loyalty and motives.

The final scene (below) has Batman quitting the Justice League because he believes the League is short-sighted for not understanding why he would create these “contingency plans”. Ultimately, Superman sides with Batman and gives him a kryptonite bullet – just in case.

Our ability to elect new representatives is our core contingency plan. It’s how we hold politicians accountable. When folks ask “who watches the watchmen” – that’s supposed to be us.

But incumbent politicians have found ways to double down on a system that isn’t serving most Americans and know there will be no consequences.

That’s corruption and we need to get rid of it.