Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's the word?


By Bill Kraus

The stages of disaffection from and disgust with politics and government are large and growing. Everyone knows about the dismal approval rating. Untouchability is also widespread, particularly among the disgusted.

But the only words to classify this late blooming phenomenon are libertarianism and anarchy. What needs to be defined is something between those two words, with a dose of conspiracy theoryism (which is not a word) to properly illustrate what is going on here.

Putting aside the taxophobia and anti-spending movements which carry the tea party label, there are identifiable feelings evident in the behavior and statements of and from the more thoughtful self-described “victims” of our government.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Toxicity Index


By Bill Kraus

The toxicity level in the state capitol has never been low, but its recent rise may be unprecedented.

It started on its upward course during the bellicose years when the two tough, smart, uncompromising leaders Scott Jensen in the Assembly and Chuck Chvala in the Senate ordered an end to the casual camaraderie that had characterized those two bodies for years.

The public show in both houses had been somewhere between bitter and vitriolic, but the after hours was where the deals were made and the rhetoric toned down. The watering holes were off the record and populated by seemingly irreconcilable partisans from both sides. Breaking bread together was common, neither encouraged nor frowned upon.

The respect for the trade and its practitioners was evident despite the disputatious nature of the institutions.

In the winter of 2011 and the recall rants that followed camaraderie was out the window and the toxicity level went ballistic. The issues that were the worthy subjects of debate and disagreement became personal. “He said, she said,” escalated to, “If he [or she] is for it, I’m against it.”

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Help wanted


By Bill Kraus

Due to the unhappy, unexpected, too early demise of Common Cause’s national president Bob Edgar, there is a job opening in Washington D.C. that may be of interest.

Common Cause was founded many decades ago by a Democratic president’s cabinet member who happened to be a Republican. He, like everyone who has ever served in any government anywhere, was acutely aware of the fact that these governments are mostly of, by, and for the interest groups large and small, worthy and less so, powerful and not, to whom those we elect are too often beholden.

When he formed Common Cause, he said that the only interest not actively represented in this special interest free-for-all was the general interest, the people; those who want a government that works for all more than an advantage for any or many of the special interests that may or may not be advantageous for the nation. He figured Common Cause would correct this oversight.

Over the years Common Cause has become an institution with its own history and image in Washington and in several, but much less than many, states.

It differs from other interest organizations in several ways which anyone who is thinking about applying for its top job must consider.