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Why We Should Elect Politicians

Oct. 25, 2016
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The disastrous candidacy of Republican Donald Trump should finally end once and for all the ridiculous idea that the answer to all our political problems is to elect non-politicians to public office. 

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson still doesn’t realize that. In fact, Johnson continues to misrepresent himself to voters to try to catch the anti-politician wave among right-wing Republicans that saddled them with an increasingly unelectable presidential nominee. 

Absurdly, Johnson is pretending that as an incumbent U.S. senator for the past six years, he’s somehow remained a non-politician.

It’s true that Johnson hasn’t accomplished much of anything. About a third of his constituents say in polls they don’t know enough about anything he’s done to express an opinion about him.

But Johnson’s a politician, all right. He just happens be a very bad and ineffective one. 

It’s not unusual for freshman senators to accomplish very little in their first terms before they learn the intricacies of getting things done in a representative democracy.

But what’s unusual and even unforgivable in Johnson’s case is that Johnson hasn’t accomplished anything on purpose. Johnson is a wealthy, right-wing extremist who doesn’t believe the federal government should do anything to improve the lives of working people in America, even in times of national crisis. 

Johnson defeated three-term incumbent Sen. Russ Feingold, a Democrat, in the racist, tea party backlash of 2010, an angry, white protest against the election of the nation’s first African American president.

Johnson arrived in Washington during the country’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and immediately began voting against creating jobs, extending the social safety net or even feeding the hungry families of millions of people thrown out of work in Wisconsin and across the country.

Ending the second worst economic crash in American history wasn’t even Johnson’s top priority. His party’s publicly stated priority was preventing President Barack Obama’s re-election. 

That’s why Johnson and other Republicans voted against every Obama proposal to create jobs and economic relief for struggling families. The longer Americans were unemployed and miserable, the more likely they were to angrily blame the president.

That wasn’t just cruel. It was un-American. It violated the decent human impulse of the country’s political parties to work together for the good of all Americans in times of national disaster. 

Feingold, known for taking principled, independent stands regardless of party pressure, holds exactly the opposite view on the role of government. He believes our representatives in government should represent us and government can be a force for the common good. 

Branded a Washington elitist by Johnson, Feingold famously visited all 72 counties every year as Wisconsin’s senator to listen to the concerns of his constituents. With a relatively modest net worth, Feingold also was one of the least wealthy members of the Senate, frequently described as a den of millionaires.

Johnson boasts about becoming one of those millionaire senators through hard work. He usually leaves out the part about marrying into the family of the Oshkosh plastics manufacturing company founded by his brother-in-law where Johnson was quickly promoted from machine operator to accountant to company president.

Ron Johnson Represents Millionaires

In the U.S. Senate, Johnson doesn’t represent the interests of the ordinary working people he left behind, only those of the millionaire corporate executives whose ranks he joined.

Johnson was one of those who ran for office denigrating people like Feingold in government who’d only worked as, ugh, “politicians” most of their adult lives instead of becoming millionaires in private industry.

All professional politicians want to do is solve the nation’s problems. Non-politicians like Johnson have more important concerns, such as cutting taxes for wealthy people like themselves. 

Now Republicans have nominated a non-politician supported by Johnson who is clearly unfit to be president. As the Trump campaign goes down in flames, you’d never guess what Johnson and other Republicans promise to do if they’re re-elected to the Senate and House.

They’re promising to continue the gridlock in Washington by doing everything possible to block any accomplishments by the first woman president just as they tried to block the first African American president from accomplishing anything. 

Republicans call that providing a check on President Hillary Clinton. It’s more like sabotaging the government of a democratically elected president. Republicans have extended their sabotage to the U.S. Supreme Court, refusing to even hold hearings on a highly qualified presidential appointee.

Washington gridlock is what disgusts citizens about politics. But not all politicians are at fault. The problem is politicians like Johnson who pretend not to be politicians at all while sabotaging government from within. 

It’s time to remove Johnson from politics, the profession he finds so loathsome. We need principled, capable politicians like Feingold who believe in democracy.

Being a politician is no kind of job for someone like Johnson, who doesn’t want government to accomplish anything for the good of its citizens. 

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