discomfort (2007-07)

Aren't You Special

Knox politics and the entitlement myth

by Steve Dupree

I did not expend a single penny in my efforts to get the job(s) I now have. I didn't spend months knocking on doors begging for votes. I didn't beg for money from friends, acquaintances and strangers to cover my costs in applying for this job. I didn't make promises I had no intention of keeping nor the ability to keep. I didn't kiss babies and glad-hand hundreds.

This isn't the first job I have had that didn't require any of those things. My job as a member of the United States Navy was pretty easy to get as well. Not only that, but after two, four or six years, there was no one there trying to take my position in the Navy away from me. After years of doing it, most citizens were content to let me continue doing it uncontested. The job required me to spend extended periods away from friends and family, and there was plenty of potential for being shot at or otherwise attacked with the intention of grievous bodily harm. The hours were long, and quarters aboard ship were pretty close. (U.S. Navy warships generally have a higher population density than prisons described as overcrowded.) On the other hand, the pay was really crappy so really there was nothing to bitch about.

So riddle me this. How the hell are you going to sell a guy like me on the idea that some clown who did do all those things in the first paragraph, who has been fighting, begging, pleading, and maybe cheating and lying to keep sucking on the public teat for decades, is deserving of special treatment just so he can have a fat, publicly-funded pension? Keep in mind that a guy who takes a couple of rounds in Iraq will get treated, but if he doesn't stay in for 20 years, shot is all he'll get and memories are all he'll have.

The situation has gotten completely out of hand. After I, and untold millions like me, swore to defend the Constitution with our lives if necessary, we are now being told that we need to wink, smile and be quiet while those who sought to circumvent or ignore the democratic process are rewarded for their disregard for the voters and their stated wishes, as expressed through the standard voting process.

I'm calling for a new rule. If you undertake extraordinary measures to get your job, you don't get to bitch about it. You don't get to claim you are performing a public service (unless it doesn't pay at all, or unless you decline such pay as it may offer). And after however many years, you don't get to claim that you deserve better treatment than any honorably discharged military members. Even if the job you have done on behalf of the public includes some measure of danger. If other people have raised money and kissed ugly babies in an effort to get that job, and you fought them off, don't bother trying to convince me of what special public consideration you deserve. You're wasting your breath, and you're wasting my time.

There is a definite and substantial element of privilege associated with elected office. It is one of the reasons why so many do aggressively seek such positions. Unfortunately, there are also many opportunities for abuse and misuse of the offices. Those opportunities grow with time in the position. It is one of the reasons I am so desirous of term limits for all. Not all politicians are corrupt or corruptible; however, I have no way of knowing which ones are and which aren't. Corrupt or no, they will claim honesty. Limiting their opportunity to be, or to become, corrupt is simply one way to encourage the voting populace to have faith in its elected officials.

It is hardly conducive to the goal of encouraging faith in our elected officials to have them selecting their own replacements in shady backroom deals with little to no homage paid to the democratic process. If they took the stated desires of the voting populace into account at all, it was not obvious. Is there some reason why those who have sworn to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic should not group these people with public enemy No. 1? It was wrong. They need to be punished.

Just as do physical structures, sociopolitical structures such as our democratic system of governance need a strong foundation. The local political structure can have a tremendous effect on national attitudes. If we are to have any chance at all of passing on to future generations a sufficient belief in the system to allow them to honestly and willingly participate (vote, serve, etc.), we have to fix the foundation. Around here, it obviously needs some pretty serious work.