03/02/13 — War of words: Battle for interest groups' favor leaves citizenry in the dust

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War of words: Battle for interest groups' favor leaves citizenry in the dust

It isn't easy to see with the naked eye, but there is a war going on in Washington -- and the American public could be paying the price.

It is not the partisan bickering that lurks in every corner -- and it is not even the ongoing, and never-ending, budget fight.

It is a battle of wills and an attempt to curry favor with anyone who could possibly swing a particular voting group.

You can see it in the speeches, the legislation that is all of a sudden a top priority and the appearances in places one would not expect to find serious politicians.

And it means that the 2014 campaign is in full swing and the 2016 race is not far behind.

Let's just pause for a moment -- ugh, more commercials.

The problem is, this battle for control, and make no mistake that is exactly what it is, is scary. It is not based in reason, bipartisanship or anything else that would put the good of America first.

It is about power, and nothing less than absolute power.

What is sad about it is that it really does not address the issues that plague these groups. There is no real solution to any problem -- just a bunch of words people want to hear -- and there is no definitive plan to keep any of the promises that are being made, just as others that have come before have not materialized.

And there are many, many people who seem not to realize that they are being had.

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward spoke out last week, saying he had been threatened by a White House staffer when he dared to criticize the administration on the sequester mess.

And while some spin might have been added for effect, the bottom line is that this happens in many ways, in many places every day as politicians try to control how their message is carried to the people.

That is why a free press and openness are so critical. When it stops being possible to ask the questions, that is when corruption and absolute power flourish and the rights of the citizenry diminish.

Politicians have to be held accountable, not only for the decisions they make, but for the baloney they spew.

There have already been many overtures made to special interest groups of all kinds -- a tactic to establish the party in power as the party of the people.

And just like the previous overtures, it is full of promises and the right words and short on the realities that really would make real change possible.

And while this campaign for hearts and minds is waged, the rest of the nation's business languishes.

We have the right to question government. And we should. And we should zealously guard the rights of a free press to ask the questions -- no matter which side of the aisle they claim, or don't claim.

But we have to be wise consumers, too.

We have to learn to sift out rhetoric and to demand real truths, even if they are hard to hear. And we have to make it OK for the politicians to tell us -- the ones who want to, that is.

Those who toss around soundbites do not respect voters. They think they can stay one step ahead of them with game, smoke, flash and mirrors because we will not know the difference, or bother to seek the real information. They are after control, not truth. And they prey on the lowest common denominators.

We should want more for our country and our future, and we should be prepared to challenge those who would have us settle for less.

It will take courage and an open mind as well as a decision to stand for what is right even as the rest of the country is accepting the easy explanations.

It will take debate, honest partnerships and partisans who can set aside the thirst for power long enough to do what is right for the country. And it will take a press and an electorate who are brave enough to ask the questions.

All are critical skills for patriots -- and first steps toward change that will make a difference, not just a rose-colored recollection in a memoir.

It is up to us to make it happen.

It really does boil down to that well-worn, but still true call to arms -- "United we stand. Divided we fall." Perhaps we can set the example Washington so badly needs.

It is, still, after all, our country, our futures and our freedom at stake.

Published in Editorials on March 2, 2013 10:42 PM