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"PIG" as a basis for campaigning


Fri, Oct 13th, 2006
Posted in Commentary

It occurs to me that almost all incumbents rely on "pig". It stands for Pork, Incumbency, and Greed in my political lexicon. When I hear an incumbent running on these "principles" it turns me off quickly. This is true whether it is a local, state, or federal office. Yes, they have to run on their record. But not on "Pig".

Pork means bringing back tax money to their constituents in some form. The implication always is made that without the incumbent none of that money would be coming back and the constituents really didn't deserve to have it come back in any case. Not true in most cases. The Tribune trumpeted that 70 million of the defense bill will be coming to Minnesota. It listed the local politicians who were "responsible". It partially listed the companies involved. They included the University of Minnesota, Pemstar, Gradient Technologies, Lockheed Martin, and Polaris. There were 99 other senators, and hundred of other representatives that voted. I doubt the listed individuals that made the article were solely responsible. That is not my only worry. I want to think the companies involved are the most competent possible. I want to think none of our Senators or Representatives traded the inclusion of these companies to other Representatives or Senators for the promise to later vote for a bridge to nowhere.

The last week before recess the Republican House rushed through 165 bills that earmarked pork for representative in trouble this election. This is despite 9 of 11 required spending bills still on the docket, no bills on lobbying reform, no bills on wiretapping, and no bills on off shore oil drilling. This is despite the house has met in full session less often than any other and had fewer committee meetings than any other open to the public and press.

If appropriations are done properly there would be no pork. Constituents and companies would receive back tax money because they deserve or earn it. In that case no special recognition is due incumbents except the honor that they are doing the job to which they were elected.

Incumbency is an excuse for inertia. Incumbents do not own the job because they can become a committee chairman. An incumbent who votes a party line 95% of the time is indicating a limited knowledge and narrow focus. No one, with imagination and a depth of interests, can have a personal political philosophy that is identical to 50 others. Caucuses are meant to inform and educate. They have, apparently, degenerated into a forum for expressing the official party line and indicate the proper vote. An indication of this is the recent revelation about the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002 rushed through before the vote to authorize the Iraq War. The New York Times and Washington Post both report no Senator and around 6 members of the House actually read the report before voting. Most read the synopsis. National Security Advisor at the time, Ms Rice, didn't read any of it. That was left to her "experts".

Is it any wonder we now complain about the lack of oversite by congress?

Greed is the emotion all those who use "Pig" are pandering to. They are appealing to the lesser of our instincts and I am personally offended. Are you better off now than years ago? Americans are better than that. We know, deep down, even the poorest of Americans are better off than a huge number of the worlds people. What we need is for someone of stature to say "ask not what your country (the world) can do for you; ask what you can do for your country (the world)."

After researching my state and federal representatives' votes and legislative initiatives I have reached the conclusion they have had no distinguished efforts to point to. They have voted the party line almost 100% of the time if you remove procedural votes. They have shown no personal initiative. They are not alone. I wish I could vote in lots of states and districts. Most Senators and Representatives should be voted out of office.

When you vote this year (I know you will vote) please take time to learn about the incumbents' record of voting and which bills he thinks were important (the marriage defense bill?). Local and state elections are as important as the national election. Take time to learn in what the challengers are interested and how they intend to pursue their goals. As Red Green says, "I'm with you; we're all in this together".

Robert Sauer lives in Preston.

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