Cal Thomas: The ‘bums’ aren’t the problem; we are

10/20/2013 12:00 AM

10/18/2013 6:13 PM

A new Associated Press-GfK poll reveals some troubling statistics for members of both major political parties – if they can be troubled, given what looks to be their lack of concern for what they are doing to the country.

The poll finds that fewer people approve of President Obama’s job performance (confirmed by a new Gallup poll, which shows a 37 percent approval rating), but that Republicans score even worse at 5 percent approval.

The poll also shows many people are fed up with the government, leading to a return of the “throw the bums out” mentality. But the problem does not lie with the “bums.” If it did, the newest elected “bums” would have fixed things by now.

The rabid careerism of politicians and the entitlement mentality of too many voters have consumed Washington, D.C., and led to its dysfunction. Putting healthy people in an environment where plague rages means they will likely contract the disease. What is needed is an entirely new (really an old) approach to government by “we the people” and by government itself.

It’s difficult to change Washington, because too many benefit from its current practices. Republicans who promote constitutional limits, spending cuts, lower taxes and the repeal of unnecessary regulations are lambasted – even by fellow Republicans – when they try to rein in unsustainable spending. The Washington establishment is powerful, and anyone who seeks to alter it risks isolation and condemnation.

Would a third political party help shock the two major parties into behaving more responsibly? Possibly, but not likely. A third-party president, or a few members of Congress who eschewed the traditional party labels, would likely find themselves in the same rut if attitudes toward government and entitlement did not change.

The problem lies less in Washington than in each American citizen.

Since Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” many Americans appear to have abandoned self-restraint, individual responsibility and accountability in favor of government as provider, protector and guarantor. The notion that people are “owed” what others have earned is primarily responsible for our enormous and growing debt.

Nothing would change Washington faster than the transformative idea that only we can make our lives better by our financial and moral choices. It’s long past time for politicians to say “eat your vegetables; they are good for you,” and for citizens to comply.

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