By Alan Lopatin (former counsel to several House committees) - 11/14/08 06:24 PM EST
Blue, gray and orange trash carts, filled to the brim in front of the offices of members who were unexpectedly defeated Nov 4. Trash carts full of the work of staffers who came to their jobs to serve the public and make a difference. Staffers with families to feed, career aspirations, hopes, dreams and friends. Facing change through no fault of their own, and as likely through no fault of their bosses but rather through the fate, the whims, of political fortune.
For the deposed Democrats, it’s probably not a bad time to be unemployed in a town gearing up for a Democratic administration and new House and Senate Democratic members. But for all of those shaken by the wake of the political tide, it means the end of a Hill family: office friendships never to be reassembled in the same way; water cooler conversations no more; “Let’s stay in touch” — never that easy.
A sad commentary on the human side of the Hill. The little communities of Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon denizens. Hallmates who often know no partisan bounds.
Our hearts go out to those who now, after the campaigning, must worry about how to pay the rent, cover the school bills, secure health insurance, buy groceries or fret over “moving back home,” since so many came from so far to make a difference. We pray they will all land on their feet and know that they most likely will. But the hurt of losing the tight-knit collection of friends and colleagues that makes up that fabric of the families of the House is deeply felt and echoed loudly as the grave markers are collected and rolled away, and the room draw begins.
Youth, small donors set example for future
From Lisa Gilbert, democracy advocate, U.S. PIRG
As a Washington, D.C., resident who loves and works in politics, I was thrilled to see young people celebrating a historic Election Day. The media have made much of the turnout of these young voters; however, it is worth noting that in addition to turning out, the youth electorate also gave in unprecedented numbers. Small donors played a bigger role in 2008 than in any previous election.
President-elect Barack Obama turned down public financing in favor of asking his base for continuous small contributions. The charisma of his candidacy caused a massive outpouring of support, and many of those small gifts came from young, first-time voters. The patterns of civic participation are set at a young age and should be built upon. When ordinary citizens giving small donations are the base of support, rather than large corporate donors, politicians are more accountable to those regular voters.
The public financing system is broken. We need to do everything we can to ensure that we put into place a system that builds on the pattern of giving that young voters established this year.
… I call on the new administration and Congress to put into place congressional and presidential financing that takes the big money out of the system and provides an incentive for small donations.
From Dr. Michael Pravica
(Regarding article “Paulson defends use of rescue package,” Nov. 12.) Borrowing more money at taxpayers’ expense and without their approval is no way to solve the economic crisis when it was unmitigated borrowing that got us into this mess in the first place.
During the Depression and afterward, our leaders developed a strategy to bootstrap us out of economic turmoil by investing in our nation’s infrastructure and creating new jobs. Hoover Dam, highways, bridges, the Empire State Building and many other monuments to our collective can-do and creative spirit were constructed.
Today, however, we are really constructing little amidst our crumbling country, as most everything is being outsourced by globalist corporations that have no allegiance to the United States but only to their shareholders.
We need to transform our economy into one that actually produces goods and not just consumes them. We also need to stop our leaders’ quixotic and expensive misadventures abroad and get them to focus on the far more difficult problems at home.