Jack Simpson - 07/03/09

We may have had a fixation with "American Idol," or could it have been apathy that helped us into our current mess? Anyway, a few Americans know by now that we were not paying enough attention when electing some of our current politicians. We made some poster children and the press helped make at least one candidate a messiah.

Sorry to say, even if I put my foot in my mouth, that we chose some candidates that have proved disappointing, have forgotten their promises and are contributing to the demise of the American dream.

In doubt? Just look at the 29 percent approval rating of our Congress. In early spring, the president had a 65 percent approval rating, yet 48 percent do not like his increasing the deficit. Voters not only worry abut the deficit, they do not like pork projects, catering to special interests, and placing self before public interest. Politically powerful leaders have taken to protecting their own interests at the expense of those electing them.

The state of our economy and the failure of our leaders to solve our problems makes us wonder why some of us were not better informed when going to the polls. Admit it! We made mistakes and some now holding office have been less than honest or trustworthy. We chose individuals with questionable reputations. They were people not worthy of public trust. As office holders a few leaders have been quick to lower ethical standards, appoint cronies unqualified for assigned jobs, cater to special interests and water down regulations unfavorable to campaign contributors.

Some of us did like our choices. Did we pick and choose because of ethnic reasons or were we truly convinced those elected would conduct public business free from power abuse, corruption or favoritism?

Because some of us did not keep ourselves current on the issues and we failed to be vigilant, or we were told by the media how to vote, we got what we deserved.

We should have insisted that candidates have clean records and a reputation for ethical conduct. Ethics in government is essential if voters are to have confidence in elected officials.

Are you satisfied with our selection? Did we make it clear what we expected from office seekers? Are we ready to hold accountable all who have failed to follow sound moral standards in the performance of public duties?

Disraeli told us there is no honor in politics. And Louis Howe said you cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest. If these gentlemen are correct, there may be little hope for the rest of us.

Meanwhile, voters must remain alert, informed and carefully select top-notch candidates for our public offices. We must insist on ethical conduct, and we must return to the polls and replace those who fail to measure up.

There are highly-qualified, honorable people ready, willing and able to serve. We are fortunate enough to have some of them already holding public offices. We need more like them.

# # #

Jack Simpson is a former educator, author, and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.