Category: Political Science
A New Contract With America
Is it time for a ?New Contract with America??
by Richard R. Tryon
In 1994 Newt Gingerich caught the imagination of the U.S. with his presentation entitled ?Contract with America?. It was a blueprint for Congress that gained a lot of publicity and more than a little evidence of success. Many of the items covered became laws of the U.S. and the changes were profound and still lasting. Tax and welfare reform are probably the two most significant areas of achievement, but much of the program was lost to the political process and the personal problems of the Speaker himself. Then came the Clinton years of inaction and anxiety over the struggle to impeach and convict. Somewhere along the way, the ....contract got ?lost in the shuffle? as the Republicans lost control of the Senate shortly after recapturing the White House.
Efforts to gain support of a divided Congress were not very successful until the 9/11 event that was a ?shot heard around the world?. President Bush has clearly won a new and much stronger constituency by his handling of the events since....but where is the War on Terror taking us?
Obviously, the first and most immediate goal is to secure our people from the kind of living that is common in Israel in which every day is started with the people wondering if today is the day when the terrorists find me? We have managed to accept a lot of loss of personal freedoms and learned to put up with delays that seem unending and often unnecessary. Still, we seem to have ?rooted- out? the control mechanism of the bin Laden Al Quaida movement and we have removed the Taliban from control of the people of Afghanistan. We are poised to deal with ?an axis of evil? that includes problems of the people that are victims of tyranny and terror in Iran, Iraq and in N. Korea. We are struggling over how to interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations because the terrorists in them are playing around with weapons of mass murder and all of humanity should want to put such people out of business!
But, where in this and other processes, are we heading as a nation from a moral perspective? We have found out that the economic concerns are abating, but the failure of a major corporation named Enron and its auditor, Arthur Anderson to play an honest game with its employees and investors shows a symptom of a malaise that is damaging to the very moral fabric of the nation. Corruption seems to be rampant.
To respond to it, Congress finally passed a so-called Campaign Finance Reform Act, but everyone knows that it is just a cosmetic papering over of the kind of moral sins that seem to be required in an age when electioneering is so very expensive.
Could it be that our problem is really more fundamental? That is the question that generated the set of four short essays that are aimed at helping readers ask and answer for themselves the questions that deal with a society that seems to have found so much money that many in positions of power seem to think that they are entitled to as much as they can take! In an age of civil liberties and entitlements, it is perhaps not too surprising, but that is not to say that ordinary Americans like the idea.
In fact, it possible that we need a new ?Contract with America? and that it should be the centerpiece of the Republican campaign to recapture control of the Congress in 2002. A similar version may make a lot of sense for Puerto Rico, because it attacks the real reason for corruption in politics- the size of big socialist style government. One that is now combined with a deplorable lack of a common religious heritage in support of honesty, integrity and morality, which makes this a growing problem both here and on the mainland that is costing civilization dearly.
The P.R. legislature wants to pass legislation that will include words that show that a cosmetic ?face-lift? under the guise of ?Campaign Finance Reform? is a prescription that can work anywhere. Using more tax dollars to be spent to make it look like the government is building a ?level playing field? for both incumbents and opposition candidates. But it is only another expanded way for more corruption to occur. Of course the media moguls will do very well, as ways will be found to add other avenues of ?free-speech? support of candidates using ?hidden? contributions on top of the government money. So the corruption issue has become the major task of a government that lacks funds and program with which to build a chance to be reselected. Knocking out the political opposition then, is a substitution for producing any positive performance upon which to campaign for reelection. So, corruption is the major issue of the day in P.R. and it has passed by the issue of Vieques for attention because the Paz a Vieques issue is out of tune with the times since 9/11 and because the corruption issue can be tried in the courts for years to keep the opposition out of power.This circumstance gives rise to the title of this series of essays...