Lee Hamilton: Apologist or Political Leader?

Muncie, Indiana NEWS – Lots of pundits, politicians and academicians trying to explain why progressives are supporting Senator Bernie Sanders, or why fed up conservatives are supporting reality television host/billionaire, Donald Trump. However, most I’ve read in newspapers or listened to on the television are lumping both sides together and calling them “populists”. They use the term “populism” with a negative spin hoping to discount what is happening – casting one side as ignorant, while the other side are “Utopian idealists”. Both descriptions are wrong and short-sighted. Too many “talking heads” are apologizing for our political and economic systems so intertwined in corruption, there is no reason to separate them. The latest apologist is famed Indiana democrat, Lee Hamilton. I agree with Lee on many of his points about civility, but he’s not doing himself any favors with his latest piece published in newspapers across the Hoosier state.

In his article, Lee is apologizing for a corrupted political system, but makes no mention of the money, or monies used to corrupt both political parties. Bernie Sanders says that no legislation in congress gets past Wall Street lawyers first. Sorry, but I didn’t choose my congressman or senator to become a shill for Wall Street. They are supposed to represent the people in what Lee refers to as a “representative democracy”:

The first is that it is very hard to make our representative democracy work. We make progress incrementally, over years if not generations. The first president to press hard for affordable, accessible health care was Harry Truman. It’s taken us that long even to get close — and no one would argue that the work is done.

Sorry Lee, but pressing for “affordable health care” means not letting pharmaceutical and insurance companies run a for profit racket on a basic right all Americans deserve, regardless of class or the size of their paycheck.

We need leaders in Congress who will hold powerful interests accountable…not apologize for their outlandish profits while Americans suffer.

What other justifications does Lee set forth for us:

So you have to approach politics with great patience. Our system discourages the rush to judgment — it puts a premium on including as many voices as possible, which takes time in a complicated country. The process is inevitably slow, noisy and messy, the results fully satisfy no one, and more often than not the best we can do is to muddle through.

I had to bold the comment, the results fully satisfy no one. This is an amazing statement. We’ve seen three decades of “trickle-down” economics in this country placing more wealth and income into the hands of a few people. This has been unlike any generation before, and I’m pretty sure the top 0.1% are very satisfied with how our policies have enriched their bank accounts.

Is it a coincidence they work for Wall Street or have their names in a little black book for politicians to contact for campaign donations?

We’ve read countless articles where politicians say that over 50% of their time is spent raising money which most hate doing. Convenient for them, they now have PACs, super PACs, social service organizations, industry outings, ALEC and many other functions matching wealthy donor to politician. What’s frustrating is Lee never mentioned how corrupting all this exchange of cash is on the political system, or if it benefits donors. Do you honestly think these wealthy donors are giving this money out of the goodness of those giving the money to politicians. Lee wants us to understand our body politics, but completely ignores the corruption. He loses all credibility when doing so.

This is embarrassing because I’ve listened to Senator Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren testify that laws don’t get passed in Congress until Wall Street lawyers review them. Why do our lawmakers who represent the people, many of whom are lawyers, seek advice from Wall Street’s lawyers?

The role of our government is to regulate industry – the private sector – like Wall Street. Maybe Lee has forgotten who our public servants serve while in office. It would be confusing when you spend a majority of time calling donors for dollars. After a while, you might actually think you work for Wall Street and forget all about the folks who live in your districts.

America might be extremely complex, but we expect fairness, justice, equal opportunity, etc. Americans being called “populists” are disappointed with the political system for a myriad of reasons. However, they unite under one premise – the political system is rigged. Bernie is pointing out who and why and many of us respect him for it. Trump has no clue, but is mocking all politicians which is good enough for conservative minded Americans who are fed up with our government giving away their hard-earned dollars. They just haven’t figured out who is taking it from them. Their hatred toward minorities is clouding their vision.

Here’s a question for Lee, “What do you think will happen when those folks on the right figure out they’ve been lied to by both corporate owned media and conservative media sources?”

Let’s help Lee Hamilton and others – the “populists” on the right are voting for Trump as an endorsement against the entire republican establishment. For all practical purposes, the Koch brothers have co-opted the entire Grand Ole Party. Nobody would support their radical economic agenda, so they use social issues and religion to manipulate a disenfranchised voter base. Conservative voters keep dropping ballots for new candidates and movements, but nothing changes. The conservative media has inflamed this group since 2001 and they’re ticked off at minorities who only vote for democrats to get free stuff.

The “populists” on the left are called progressives, and know all about the corporate corruption by ignoring 80% of media, because they know the “Mainstream Media” is used by the Billionaire class to manipulate we the people. Propaganda peddlers. They also see capitalism as a flawed economic system rewarding those with privilege and guaranteeing others a life of servitude. Never mind the fact capitalism is NOT sustainable – inflicting insurmountable damage to our environment which supports all life on this planet.

Why would we destroy the ecosystem which sustains us? We don’t have a Planet B.

For instance, to support a bloated military defense industry, our government and media makes excuses to bomb places in the name of “evil doers or terrorists”. Never mind all the innocent civilians who are being killed or maimed in the process. We’ve displaced millions of Syrians, and then refuse to help them. If our country didn’t push our way around NATO and other international organizations, while using public relations specialist around the globe to tell everyone how great we are, we’d most likely be condemned as the worlds greatest threat to humanity.

Progressives know the Democratic Party has abandoned them for Wall Street donors. Again, decades of policies rewarding the top 1% has been proof enough, but if Lee isn’t convinced, he needs to read the donor list to Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.

From our vantage point, the Democratic Party now represents the Military Industrial Complex, while the Republican Party has become the Party of the Koch brothers – a modern-day Birch Society with an Ayn Rand twist of objectivism.

The bottom line is both our political and economic systems are failing us…Americans are fed up with promises of change. We saw all the “bait and switch” campaign tactics – promises of hope and change, only to see our president be subservient to Wall Street despite a $13 trillion financial system bailout paid for by the American taxpayer. The banks should have been broken up and turned into regional utilities. They weren’t, and now they are bigger today than they were when they failed in 2008.

Again, is this a coincidence? We think not.

Banks aren’t the only corrupted institutions within these frameworks failing to serve the masses. This has been going on for generations, Lee Hamilton. Don’t tell us, “we need to better understand the system”, or “be patient”.

Albert Einstein​ wrote about it in the 1940’s…he could see where monied interests were using their power to influence media, government and universities to rig the system in their favor. When a lifelong politician like Lee Hamilton steps forth to make excuses for a political system without mentioning corruption, he loses all credibility. He comes across as an apologist. There are plenty of academicians who write for our local, regional and national media who apologize for our corrupted systems, and some of them even blame “we the people” for its failures. Apathy is a big problem, but until politicians take a stand against the failed system, voters won’t waste their time. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

We need transformational leaders who are willing to step forward and say enough is enough. Don’t pressure leaders like Bernie Sanders to “step in line with the party”. Don’t tell young people to “conform” – our youth has always been on the right side of history.

The role of our political leaders are to serve the people – not the political party, and not campaign donors. Not Wall Street executives or billionaires who’ve inherited their wealth from earlier generations. Serve we the people.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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