Politicians Will Live Forever | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

Politicians Will Live Forever 

Taking a Gander

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They say that only the good die young.

If that’s true, Americans can look forward to thousands of elected officials—and a particular ex-president—living forever.

America’s politicians, for the most part, are not people of quality or integrity. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few standouts, but the sad fact is that politics is not a career that attracts the moral and principled types.

Sadly, even those who idealistically enter politics with the goal of patriotic service, are often corrupted right out of the starting gate. The reality is that being an elected politician demands flexibility, and that excludes most ethical types. After all, the decent and naïve simply don’t belong; politics only allows clever chameleons to survive—the ones with no real moral foundation, who can change their colors as a situation requires.

And change their colors they do.

Look at the many Republican senators and congressional members who condemned Donald Trump’s instigation and support of the January 6th Capitol attack. They were appalled and scared while it was happening, but a little time, ambition, and amnesia seem to have cured their concerns. After all, selling their souls to the devil isn’t such a big deal, and creating a loyalty to Trump seems to be the more expedient choice.

The big question: Are there actually a handful of our nation’s congressional or senatorial candidates who love their state and country more than the limelight, the power, and the financial perks that invariably follow successful careers in politics?

Considering the current state of our country, that’s a rhetorical question. For, virtually everyone in the back of their minds knows the correct answer. The fact is that, without a sweeping overhaul of our country’s election laws and campaign-funding regulations, there is likely to be no bright future for the country that has been the world’s most prominent flagbearer for democracy.

Where it stands, right now, is that all politicians can be legally “bought” by the players who have the biggest resources, and, even sadder, that money is the key to winning elections. We’re not just talking about national-level elections. We’re talking about every elected office, right down to the dogcatcher in your town.

As we celebrate yet another annual Fourth of July, there’s a real question about the meaning of the American Dream. Like a space launch toward a distant planet, the slightest miscalculation, over a period of years, can end up missing the intended destination by millions of miles or even light-years.

Considering our current direction, the Founding Fathers’ spaceship has wandered far afield of its intended destination.

I am lamenting the dearth of quality that now characterizes our nation’s elected leaders. The notion of actual “public servants” has flown out the window, and the idea that our legislators should be the most noble and patriotic of Americans is almost a joke. While the examples of this premise are distributed over all 50 states, we as Utahns must face the fact that politics is, at best, the dirtiest of games.

It would certainly be better if it were just a “game,” but politics has a lasting impact on how the American Dream functions, and, more importantly, whether or not it survives. With the legal bribery that has flooded the election system of our country—because of a treasonous decision by SCOTUS in the Citizens United case—the most powerful corporations now hold the reins of power and all our futures solidly in their grasp. Even scarier is the factual experience of seeing how these big-money players are cultivating their own stakes in America while depriving the majority of Americans of the great dream of our democracy.

Remember that Sen. Mitt Romney voted for Trump’s impeachment twice, which would have avoided the present predicament of a criminal running for the presidency. As Utah’s only Senator who had the guts and integrity to call a spade a spade prepares to vacate his senate seat, who can Utahns look to as an example of selfless, patriotic, public service? I hate to say it folks, but the answer is likely “no one.”

In a state where religious piety runs virtually everything, and so much attention is given to the lip-service of “righteousness,” it should be very disturbing to know that, without Romney, Utah will be just one more state that has virtually no moral voice in Washington. I think it’s fair to say that he was the only Utahn who was willing to stand up and be counted.

If we look at the field of Utah’s legislative picks, we should be very concerned that “all is not well in Zion.” The flexible morality of people like Mike Lee should make us all sick. On one hand, he extols the virtues of the U.S. Constitution. On the other, he changes his chameleonic colors to fit in with the MAGA movement and support Donald Trump’s grandest lies, all while claiming to be one of Utah’s Vestal Virgins. Where are Lee’s morals? They’re hijacked—if they ever actually existed—by the possible rewards of being a Trump loyalist, and that precludes any allegiance to America or his constituents. He’ll kiss Trump’s ring if he thinks it gives him a shot to become a high-ranking official of another DJT reign, but he has no real interest in the people who elected him.

The same goes for the whole caboodle. They’re not the people who will be revered as patriots when their long lives are finally over, and, in a very real way, they are still chipping away at our freedoms, while allowing money and power to rule their actions.

As Americans and as Utahns, we need to strive to find quality candidates to further the loftiest goals of the American Dream.

Don’t think we can’t end up with a repressive theocracy like Iran, a military dictatorship or even a kingdom upon what was once America. If we don’t get serious about quality representation, our Independence Day festivities may just be a thing of the past.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and their adorable and ferocious dog “Poppy.” comments@cityweekly.net

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