Listening to Tom DeLays resignation comments, it is quite clear what is wrong with the political process. Almost without exception his comments revolved around his leaving Congress for the good of the party. In his case, the Republican party. He even stated: "My own judgment is that our party will continue to succeed because we're the party of ideas."
Doesn't that strike one as a bit odd? If, as he insists, he is innocent of all the charges leveled against him, then there isn't a reason for him to step down. This falls under the 'If you're innocent you have nothing to hide' syndrome which proponents of increased government intrusion into ones private life trot out to defend the Patriot Act and warrantless wiretaps.
It takes alot of effort and resources to run for an elected office. To have to appear in court to defend ones self at the same time would be an inconvenience at best and a campaign killer at the worst. DeLay even said that he believed he only had a 50-50 chance of winning re-election.
But that belies the larger picture. Certainly the Democrats will try to take advantage of the situation and get one of their members elected to the soon-to-be vacant spot just as the Republicans will try to get one of their members to fill the spot. That isn't the issue. What is the issue is the overriding, zealot-like actions and comments of DeLay. At no time, to my knowledge, did he say he was stepping aside to prove his innocence and to let the people decide who should replace him to serve their interests. Instead, all his comments revolved around doing the right thing for the party.
I've said before that both parties do their best to preserve the status quo within their organizations. That mindset has now been transformed into a similar zeal for elected offices with both parties more concerned about who controls the seat than who has the better ideas for the constituents.
I know what you're going to say. Whichever party controls the most seats will be able to control the legislation. Which is true but misses the point. Those people running for office will now rarely say what their credentials are and why they are better for the electorate. Instead they will usually say they are running to maintain X control of the district (where X equals whatever party is in power).
That's not, or shouldn't be, why we elect people to public office. We should be electing people who we feel will best represent our interests regardless of political affiliation. This may or may not be the same party who holds the seat but we shouldn't be basing our decision solely on the party in power but rather on what the person has to offer.
Tom DeLays words speak volumes about the sorry state of politics in this country. For a very long time the influence of the average voter has been declining and today is almost non-existent, replaced with the huge amounts of money that businesses, unions, PACs, wealthy individuals and yes, foreign governments, can throw at those running for elected office.
For proof of such situation look at the price of gasoline. It's getting up there, isn't it? Do you think that happened only because of supply and demand? In the past, yes. Today, not so much. Today, the oil industry can meet with the Vice President and set the country's energy policy knowing full well that they will be able to collude with one another to gouge consumers and not have to face any investigation of their policies as a payback for their monetary contributions to the presidents election.
Now we come to a point in our country's history where the partys hold on power is more important than doing the right thing or offering reasons why the party should retain power. As my link to a previous story indicates, the parties themselves perpetuate this fiasco by only giving assistance to the person they want to run for an office, cutting out the right of the voters to decide. In other words, so long as you genuflect to the party hierarchy and are willing to do as you are told, we'll support you. That's right, you can vote for anyone you want so long as it's this person. Does this sound familiar?
Tom DeLays resignation is a good thing. It's one more corrupt politician who won't be around to be bribed by non-voters (i.e. corporations and special interest groups). The downside is this ridiculous notion that only another Republican should be filling his spot. Sure, he has to say it but the people of that district probably believe him. Which is scary.
What is even more scary is that after all is said and done, no matter the outcome of his trial his, Tom DeLay will be rewarded by the Republican party. He could be found guilty of being a spy for Iran and having passed along nuclear technology and the Republican party will get him a cushy job at a lobbying firm at a much higher salary and perk package. Why? Because he sacrificed his political carrer for the good of the party. Not the people of his district nor for Americans as a whole. For his party.