Truth and Trust Essential Before Electing Legislators by Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil

January 18, 2014

January 18, 2014

By Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil –

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy — which is always followed by a dictatorship.

How close is America to the tipping point in which we lose our republic? Our country certainly has declined morally and financially in the last few decades. Some are saying we are financially and morally bankrupt and even when the rule of law is applied, it is not always fair or honest.

Trust as defined by the dictionary means:

“Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

Yes, that sums it up well! The very word — trust — evokes strong emotions within us, as it is an essential ingredient in all our relationships: our marriages, our children and friends. It is also essential in our businesses relationships, our doctors, and even in the very products we buy. When that trust is broken, it is often devastating and exceedingly difficult to regain. It can cause irreparable damage.

Why then do we so easily overlook an elected official who deceives and lies to be elected? When they are elected and vote for laws we reject, and thus betray our trust, where is the public outrage? And most puzzling of all, why are they reelected?

Might it be that too many Americans are low information voters? Have we become a nation whose knowledge is largely limited to media sound-bites and newspaper headlines? Not knowing much about the candidates and their voting records or reputations, they often use their local newspaper’s recommendations for their ballot. How could they possibly know what the editors stand for, let alone the candidates or ballot propositions. It must be every citizen’s responsibility to discover if a candidates kept his/her promises and background.

Insight into this disconnect between voters and their legislators has a direct tie to Congressional approval statistics. For 2012 it was 15% and in 2013 it was 14%, the lowest in Gallup history. Apparently everyone blames the poor performance of congress on representatives from all the other states, falsely thinking their official performed according to his campaign promises. Until we hold our own representatives accountable, this trend will continue.

A case might be made that it is difficult to keep track of every public official’s political track record. Fair enough, but how about using the President of the United States as an example? Has he kept his promises; has he told the truth? While running for reelection in 2011 and speaking at fundraising events, President Barack Obama took credit for enacting a majority of his agenda during his then nearly three years in office. He claimed to have fulfilled 60 percent of them. But even by the most lenient standards, his percent of fulfilling promises was at best just 30 percent. Even more important, the promises he did not keep were the ones he emphasized most and which helped elect him.

Candidate Obama promised transparency and a new culture of cooperation in Washington D.C., one in which he would reach across the aisle to Republicans. He called it a climate of cooperation. But once the dust had settled from the election, and seeing that his party had gained a majority in both houses, Obama no longer needed to consider the opinions of Republicans. He not only ignored Republicans, he ignored the majority of citizens as he worked with a select group of his party members to craft the Stimulus Bill, which did not go for the purposes he promised, and the controversial Affordable Care Act, which is proving disastrous. The negotiations for both laws were conducted in a manner far from Obama’s campaign promises. Republicans were ignored in the crafting of the Affordable Care Act; it did not receive a single Republican vote.

Obama quickly broke his campaign promise of transparency. He promised to post all bills online 5 days before he would sign them. That did not happen! Thus, Nancy Pelosi’s famous comment, “We have to pass the healthcare bill to know what is in it,” was painfully accurate.

President Obama is now half way through his second term. At one time Obama indicated that the separation of powers are the key to our republic. Yet several days ago Obama announced that he would assume lawmaking powers via a pen to executive orders and a phone to call supporters for help. That brazen, authoritarian, and dangerous threat was an insult to his oath to uphold our constitution. The very reason for a republic and separation of powers is so that one person or one of the ruling bodies cannot dominate. It is a safeguard. We should be concerned when a president misuses and abuses his “executive order” privilege.

What is taking place in the oval office by this president is disturbing. When a president begins to overreach his authority, Congress should be front and center condemning it. To date nobody in his party has spoken out against this threat. The media has not clamored to their computers to expose this dangerous threat. Partisan politics is unhealthy when it reaches this point. It is times like this that the public must speak up and demand action.

Another issue of concern at present is the unprecedented removal of those in command of the military and their replacements by the Obama administration. Military careers have been abruptly ended with forced retirements. The obvious question we all should be asking is, why? Some have suggested It would be frightening if done to silence critics of the administration or to purge those who refuse to carry out what they consider illegal and/or immoral acts somewhere down the road. Others are just concerned it compromises our safety to reduce experienced, dedicated military personnel when we live in an uncertain and violent world.

Admittedly there are some honest, hardworking elected officials, but evidence indicates there are many who deceive voters to win elections and then govern in a manner far from what they promised. That will continue as long as the public remains uninterested and/or too busy to pay attention and hold them accountable. We all need to remember their campaign promises and closely examine their actions. Encourage those who do keep promises and support their reelection, but work to remove and replace those who disappoint.

Together we can make a positive difference if we make voting decisions based on what legislators do, not what they say they will do. Hope for our future will not be found in one person, even if he or she is the President. America’s fate will be determined by “we the people” at the grassroots level. That is a privilege that has made America the envy of the World.

We are the masters of our own destiny. We hold the fate of this nation in our hands. Will you take the challenge given by Benjamin Franklin centuries ago? Will you help protect our republic by voting wisely?

Bonnie O’Neil is the co-author of this post.
“[AUTHORS’ NOTE: This is but a prelude to a series of articles written by Nancy Thorner and Bonnie O’Neil in an effort to alert voters as to the importance of knowing the candidates and what they stand for. For only in doing so will this nation survive the assault that has been leveled upon it since our Founding Fathers gave us what is a remarkable document in our Constitution to serve as a signpost for this nation, a nation that grew and prospered under that amazing document. However, we should also remember the words of Benjamin Franklin as he left the hall after negotiating the Constitution in Philadelphia. Asked by a member of the gathered crowd what the authors had decided, Franklin replied “We have given you a republic, if you can keep it”. What prompted that remark? The authors and signers of the Constitution knew the potential danger of a Republic is the people. Our Country’s success or failure lies in the hands of voters, whose responsibility is to investigate and elect representatives who are patriots; men and women who are willing to jealously guard the constitution, and who will continually put country over personal gain.”

— Nancy Thorner

Nancy Thorner writes for Illinois Review.

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