BY DIANE DIMOND
Bravo and Hooray! We the American people have officially identified what’s wrong with this country.
For four straight months now, the Gallup organization’s poll question, “What do you think is the most important problem facing this country today?” has gotten the same answer. Respondents have concluded that it is (can I get a drumroll, please?) the government.
Gallup reports the economy and unemployment, health care, race relations and immigration all continue to worry us, but dissatisfaction with our government is the most often mentioned concern these days. In addition, Gallup says 67 percent of us are not satisfied with the direction the United States is headed.
Real Clear Politics pegs the public’s approval rating for Congress at a laughable 18 percent, and it has been that low (and even lower) for years now. A Quinnipiac poll reports 52 percent of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s performance. But after all this dissatisfaction with our politicians, nothing much changes.
Since there isn’t another general election until November 2016, I’m thinking the pollsters will find the same dismal approval rating every month going forward.
Which causes me to think back to those long-ago lessons about Isaac Newton’s first law of motion. Remember that? “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”
So what will be the “unbalanced force” that knocks off our current style of dysfunctional, chokehold politics from its destructive path?
Not everyone agrees that this latest Gallup poll equates to bad news. My old pal, radio talk show host Jerry Doyle, actually sees it as good news. On his syndicated radio show he interpreted the Gallup results as proof that politicians now realize we’re on to them.
“They see our headlights in their political rearview mirrors,” Doyle told his audience. “They used to be able to step on the gas and get away from us … (But) we’re catching up to their lies … and we’re catching up to their promises and their sleights of hand and all the games they’ve been playing.”
Now, the self-proclaimed libertarian Doyle says, everyone understands that the politicians running this country are like the Emperor with no clothes. “Everybody knows that it’s all (been) big BS,” he said.
Is he right? Is public awareness the “unbalanced force” that will change the course of our political paralysis? I’d like to hope so, but seems to me bad actors don’t change their behavior until they are forced to.
Some politicians may have truly thought they could deliver on their promises only to be thwarted by the politics-as-usual attitude of colleagues. But others have looked right into the camera and lied to us without blinking an eye.
In America, rarely does a corrupt politician go to prison. They pay a fine or lose their job but the justice system that incarcerates so many mostly overlooks ne’er-do-well elected officials when it comes time to dole out punishment.
Let’s watch and see what happens to the latest political disgrace, Congressman Aaron Schock of Illinois, whose high-profile lifestyle and unorthodox spending — reportedly using taxpayer and campaign funds — forced him to resign this week.
If we are, indeed, the force to affect change, then what are we, the voters, doing in reaction to this deteriorating and dismal leadership?
Have we demanded prison time for the corrupt? Have we gone into the election booth and voted out the bums? Has your elected official from Washington come home to hold a town hall meeting — and have you bothered to attend? Since there is strength in numbers, have you joined (or started) a neighborhood group to demand action on an issue? Have you written to your representative (or the editor of this publication) petitioning for changes in the tax or judicial system, immigration, education or any other subject you passionately feel is being mismanaged?
Newton’s time-tested theory tells us that an object — in this case our government — stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon.” So what can we do? Vote out the bad politicians, demand term limits or consider running for political office yourself.
Justice is ours when we either demand it or grab it by the throat and make it happen. Certainly not when we sit back and wait for it to arrive.
Rockland resident Diane Dimond is a syndicated columnist, author, regular guest on TV news programs, and correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast. Visit her at www.DianeDimond.net or reach her via email Diane@DianeDimond.net