Editor's note: The original version of this column mentioned Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, when what was meant was Jesse Jackson. The error has been corrected in this updated version.
It appears there is no shortage of immorality and perverted behavior when it comes to American politicians. What is it about politics that breeds such abnormal behavior: power, position, prestige, privilege? Whatever it is, bad behavior seems to be growing faster than the national debt.
The scandals are not exclusive to one side of the aisle: Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev.; former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla.; former Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y.; presidential candidate John Edwards; Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.; Sen. David Vitter, R-La.; former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer; Jesse Jackson; and former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich just to name a few. I don't have space in this column to list the hundreds of bad apples in the news daily for making bad decisions, breaking promises and feeding perverted appetites.
Arthur Friedman once said, "Men of genius are admired, men of wealth are envied, men of power are feared, but only men of character are trusted." We place trust in these politicians every time we pull the lever in November. And yet we are so easily betrayed.
In every other area of life, trust is not easily obtained and very simple to lose. And once broken, it's virtually impossible to regain. However, that doesn't seem to slow down the increase of failure we experience everyday in American politics.
That is why so many Americans are discouraged after placing their trust in politicians and their promises made during the campaign. Those voters are now being rewarded with broken promises, bad behavior and the abuse of power and trust.
Last week alone, the party of broken promises struck again by spending $10 billion extending unemployment benefits without paying for it under its own recently enacted pay-go law. The principle was simple. Washington could only spend what it pays for through increased revenues or spending cuts. No more borrowing and burdening future generations. Only one man of character, Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., was willing to stand up and question this move.
He was ridiculed and attacked for doing exactly what the Democrats demanded. They literally grandstanded the whole "pay-go" issue. Every politician wanted to extend the unemployment benefits. That was not in question. But they should have paid for it. Tap the TARP or cut funding on some stupid project like paying people to spit on a cross and calling it "art" would have been better, don't you think? Instead, the same politicians who declared they would not spend money on anything they couldn't pay for spent the $10 billion by adding it to the debt.
The lists of broken promises on both sides are endless. Mr. Obama promised to stop the practice of earmarks during his campaign, and yet he signs bills with earmarks. He passed legislation without posting bills online or broadcasting on C-Span as promised. Mrs. Pelosi demanded pay-go and then ignored it. Draining the swamp sounded good to Nancy until Rangel would go down the drain in the process. Harry Reid, another author of "pay-go," spent and borrowed without a second thought.
We need to return to rewarding trustworthiness and punishing those who so easily sell out their honor for a vote, money, power, a favor or a quick romp in the sack with a hooker or congressional page. It is our responsibility to be engaged.
None of us is perfect, and we all make mistakes. But we all should strive to honor our vows, fulfill our promises and do the right thing if we want to maintain the trust of the people around us. If we don't, we cannot expect people to trust us. We cannot allow a few well-scripted words in a teleprompter to deliver people from their failures. Actions are required, not just spin.
We need a new breed of leaders focused on character, not popularity. Character allows for trust. Character is the only trait every person has 100 percent control over from the day they are born until the day they die. My hope is to leave this world with the following words truthfully inscribed on my tombstone, "He loved God, his wife and his family and was a man of character."
This November we have a mission if we are serious about taking back our country. We can only send to Washington those politicians who have kept faith in the promises to their family and constituents. If they haven't, they need to look for a real job. As for me, I am only voting for men and women of character. I refuse to place my trust in the untrustworthy among us.
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