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Editorial: A ‘fork in the road’ for politicians
By Greg Allen
Someone told a joke the other day. At first I thought it was humorous, but then it got me to thinking about more. The witticism was: “What’s the difference between a politician and a catfish?” The punchline was: “One’s a bottom-dwelling scum sucker and the other’s a fish.”
Is that what our elected representatives have become, the butt end of a joke? It would appear so because America’s approval rating of Congress, depending on the poll, is as low as 9 percent. The citizens of the United States have a loftier opinion of pornography, polygamy, or the BP oil spill.
The original title of this piece, before I scratched it, was: “The revelation of a disgusted nation.” Maybe that’s an intro for another day.
In a “Fox News” interview on May 6, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio made the statement: “The president has become like everyone else in Washington. He’s cynical, utterly divisive, and a typical politician.” Rubio rehashed that claim several times during the interview.
It used to be incumbent politicians were virtually impossible to pry from office, but that theatrical scene has been revised. Several incumbents, Republican and Democrat alike, have already lost their seats in state primaries this year. In my state, Indiana, a longtime senator lost to his adversary in the May primary. That incumbent was Richard Lugar. Lugar held the seat for seven terms and some 35 years. He lost to a tea party candidate.
To say the citizens of this nation have become sheep and been overtaken by a government of wolves might be a fair claim, but the sheep have awakened and gained teeth.
Mr. Lugar may have had great intentions when he went to Washington, but he eventually lost his way. He became part of the fabric there. It was learned the senator hadn’t lived in Indiana since being elected. His residence has been in a Virginia suburb. Lawsuits were brought against the politician for that, but he’d broken no law. Oddly enough, his driver’s license claimed he resided at an Indiana address, which he sold years ago.
If Barack Obama has any doubts about the anger astir in the electorate, he need only confer with the soon-to-be former senator.
Mayors, school board members, councilmen, commissioners, congressmen, senators, and presidents who indulge themselves in the convoluted ways of self over the well-being of the public will awaken a sleeping giant -- the citizenry of America can be punishing in that regard.
Politicians may have great promise and admirable intent when they run for office, but then again others have something altogether different in mind. They all come to a “fork in the road.” It’s lonely traveling that all-too-politicized thoroughfare. One would think it’s glamorous being in the spotlight and never alone, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth, for they’re locked in with the ever-prying thoughts of the soul.
When a politician comes to that decisive “fork” he or she must stand at the intersection and ponder which direction to take -- however long that may take. Someone once said: “We are what we think and become what we lust for.”
I compare it to the analogy of watching a Netflix flick. The audience watching the drama unfold is the politician’s constituency. They’re taking it all in from the comfort of home. The main character eventually comes to a fork in the road. All watch as the elected official decides which path to take. Some of those characters believe they’re stars and not servants at all.
One of those roads is a lonely one, lined with nothing more than a berm of dignity. That other path seems much more busy and loaded with distraction. The berm there is loaded with temptation and more lustful pretense than one could dare dream.
Fame and fortune can come at a high price for some politicians, for that prison door has shut upon many a crook.
I’m of the opinion Americans are fed up with the shenanigans of those claiming to be above the political fray. I don’t think the 2012 fall election will be close at all and Barack Obama will fail in his re-election bid.
Mitt Romney better learn from the experience though. For his logic better be one of: “It’s not business as usual anymore” or he’ll be an eventual one-termer too.
Greg Allen’s column, “Thinkin’ Out Loud,” is published bi-monthly. He’s an author, nationally syndicated columnist, and the founder of Builder of the Spirit in Jamestown, Ind., a nonprofit organization aiding the poor. He can be reached at 765-676-5014 or www.builderofthespirit.org.
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