Understanding the Concept of Reform

-By Frank Salvato

Country first. It’s a great concept and one that has been – for all practical purposes – lacking inside the beltway since before the advent of the spin doctor. Truthfully, both major political parties and their elected and appointed leadership have been delinquent in executing the spirit of “country first.” Both have placed the health of their respective political parties before good government and their quest for political power above the needs and demands of their constituents and the good of the nation. Both should be admonished for violating their oaths and betraying the American people.

Politicians make bad Statesmen, perhaps the understatement of the millennium. The ironic point about this truth is that in order to achieve the opportunity to demonstrate statesmanship you must first transverse the political process. Therefore, it is quite rare to experience the clarity of statesmanship in government.

This being understood, the American citizenry must quest for clarity, for truth and honesty, when addressing the issue of government and the notion of reform. Our government, no doubt, could benefit from the concept of reform. A streamlining of operations and an elimination of redundant and non-constitutionally mandated services would serve our nation well. Be that as it may, our government functions fairly well. A plethora of services are rendered each and every day to millions of Americans. And while we sometimes find ourselves disparaging the performance of government – its wasteful nature, its bureaucracy, etc. – for all that it provides it could do a lot worse. We could be Zimbabwe.

In the quest for clarity and truth, we, the American citizenry, must come to grips with the fact that the mainstream media and political opportunists are leading us around by the nose, often providing us with inaccurate and disingenuous information. Sadly, for whatever reason (I suspect apathy and time constraints are two main reasons), we digest the information served up to us as if it were properly vetted, consuming it as verifiable truths. It is for this reason that the mainstream media was so potent in electing Barack Obama to the presidency (sorry, Shepard, you’re simply wrong on this issue and you have no standing to declare otherwise).

Another truth we must have the courage to accept is that while it is easier to point the finger of blame at the man sitting in the Oval Office for government misdeeds, most of the time the entity at fault for bad government or the expansion of government or the encroachment upon our constitutional rights is Congress. The president is limited to the powers of the Executive Branch as outlined in Article II of the US Constitution. And while some presidents have attempted to broaden the powers of their office by venturing into constitutional gray areas, even the most rudimentary understanding of the Constitution exposes the fact that the powers vested in the Legislative Branch – Congress – are far more likely to result in opportunist manipulation, manipulation that directly affects your daily life.

Congress is the only branch of government that can authorize expenditures and, therefore, is the governmental entity responsible for taxes, budgets, deficits, etc. While the president and his budgetary offices may construct the annual budget, it is Congress that must approve it and craft it into law. Understanding that the financial woes of our nation are squarely placed on the authorizations of Congress (including the current financial crisis) it is astounding that the 110th Congress – dominated by Democrat control in the House and effectively the Senate – wasn’t held to task for failing to enact the “reform” they promised in 2006. Instead, on November 4, 2008, the American people rewarded their failure of government by awarding them an even broader majority in both houses of Congress. Why? Because the mainstream media and political opportunists – led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid – set themselves to repeatedly and falsely laying the blame for Congress’s misdeeds at the front door of the White House. Over time – and with no proof but the words presented – We the People started to accept the accusations as truth, abdicating our civic responsibility to quest for the truth. Goebbels would have been impressed.

Yes, the American people are ready for “change,” but that change has to come from within. It cannot be legislated (only ideologues strive to legislate change) and it can’t be voted into office (only ideologues are voted into office in the “hope” of instituting change). Change has to come at our hand and that begins with understanding one undeniable fact and reforming two major components in the electoral process:

Fact: If you want “change” in how government affects your life the entity you want to focus on is the Legislative Branch, not the Executive Branch.

Component 1) We must – must – take responsibility for the individuals we send to the US House and the US Senate. We must know who these people are and we have to stop taking their campaign rhetoric at face value. In the age of the Internet there is no excuse for not fully understanding the way your elected officials vote. Further, there is no excuse for falling for campaign rhetoric when it is in juxtaposition to how your elected officials vote in Congress.

Component 2) We must hold the mainstream media accountable for their misdeeds; their lies and misdirection, their editorialization of the facts and their ideological biases. News organizations should present the facts of news events untainted by a reporter’s opinion. The place for opinion in news – educated or ignorant – is on the talking head shows, both on television and radio. Do this and there is no need for the “Fairness Doctrine.”

While many in the Republican Party and in conservative realms argue and hem-and-haw about how to restructure the GOP in the wake of its second major electoral defeat and who would lead the party out of the seventh circle of dysfunction, it would be wise to understand that without reform of the mainstream media the principles and tenets adopted as sacrosanct are meaningless.

To be sure, the political process and the mainstream media are in desperate need of reform. If we are truly exhausted with the dysfunction of Washington DC, the State Houses and the City Halls, these two reform issues must take center stage; then we can tackle political principles, ideology, ethos and dogma.

“By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell – and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.”
– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal . He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at oped@newmediajournal.us

Copyright Publius Forum 2001