Self-preservation politics undermining our democracy

Do you want to know why your government is not only failing you miserably, but
putting your and the future of your children and grandchildren in great
peril? Simple. Those who govern us don’t care.

Harsh? The truth often is. Human nature dictates that the vast
majority of our politicians will put their welfare or the good of their
political party before the needs of their constituents, states or
nation. It’s called “self-preservation,” and it’s destroying our country
from within.

Most children, at the earliest age they can understand and retain, are taught
“Wrong is wrong,” and “You have
to be accountable for your actions.” Your elected officials believe — and preach — that the other party is always
wrong and they themselves should never be accountable for their failings.

As an independent conservative — while the actions of both parties sicken me
at times — I am usually most repulsed by the loathsome and hypocritical
misdeeds of the Republican Party, the continuing exploits of South
Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford coming most quickly to mind.

After getting caught in a yearlong affair with a woman in Argentina, the governor’s wife just decided — unlike most political wives — to file for
divorce on the grounds of adultery. While she was understandably grabbing
the moral high ground, the House Judiciary Committee in South Carolina
chose “self-preservation” when it decided to kill a measure to impeach
Sanford. Instead, they offered up a toothless resolution to “censure” the
governor, a censure that states, in part, that Sanford “brought ridicule
and dishonor to himself, the State of South Carolina, and to its citizens.”
A description that begs the question, What’s it take to get booted out of
office in the Palmetto State?

More than bringing “ridicule and dishonor” to the state, a number of political
operatives I know believe that with his disappearing act to Argentina, Sanford
was unambiguously in dereliction of his duties as governor. As the
prurient details were playing out across the airwaves, I was wondering where
the strong conservative and moral voices of Republican Sens. David Vitter
(La.) and John Ensign (Nev.) were on the subject of adultery, as both men had once called for President Bill
Clinton to resign for similar conduct. Whoops. As Ensign and Vitter
had just signed long-term leases in the glass house of adultery, there would be
no stones thrown at Sanford by them.

Fine. What say potential 2012 GOP candidates Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Mike Huckabee? While all three men strongly believe in “the sanctity
of traditional marriage,” their response to the adulterous conduct of Sanford,
Vitter and Ensign has been mostly silence — or the always lame “It’s a matter
between them, their spouses and their states.” Hardly profiles in courage from
men who talk
the talk on traditional values.

On the Democratic side of the aisle of ill repute, you have the likes of Gov. David Paterson of New York and Sen. Roland Burris of Illinois.  When I
asked a high-level Democratic friend of mine about these two, he said, “Better to
have them disappear quietly than bring attention to their misconduct and hurt our

Wow. There it is in a nutshell. Both sides want to protect
themselves or the “franchise” at all costs.

As this self-serving conduct thunders on unchecked, the world we all inhabit is
becoming more unstable, more unpredictable and more dangerous by the
day. Nature, disease and the real-life monsters in our midst tend to
seek out the weakest points or individuals to attack, exploit or eradicate.

Weakness in our republic now reigns supreme. The American people deserve
a better fate.

MacKinnon was press secretary to former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), served as a White
House and Pentagon official in the Ronald
Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations and is a novelist.

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