Commentary, Politics

Gary Johnson: Imperial Politicians and Their Outrageous Slush Fund for Despicable Behavior

Ours is supposed to be a government “of the people”.

Yet, increasingly, our leaders – particularly in Washington – seem to have lost all touch with how the rest of us live, work and conduct our business.

Thanks to the fact that a number of high-profile and apparently chronic sexual harassers and abusers have recently had their exploits become known, we have now learned that Congress has its own secret fund from which to pay settlements to the victims of such despicable behavior.

That’s right. For more than two decades, victims of harassment and discrimination on Capitol Hill have been forced into a closed, secret process for filing a complaint – and if their complaints led to a financial settlement, we taxpayers paid that settlement out of an equally secret fund.

That’s outrageous.

While it is appropriate to establish due process, taxpayers should not foot the bill for bad behavior

To be fair, given the potential for damage from false or politically-motivated accusations, it is not outrageous that Congress might take some steps to insure fairness and “due process.” But to have taxpayers foot the bill when the politicians’ behavior was at least bad enough to merit a financial settlement? That’s just crazy.

It’s a system designed to remove consequences for behavior that would get most of us fired, if not jailed.

But is it surprising? Unfortunately, no.

After all, this is the same political class who can’t understand why we are outraged when a Cabinet Secretary takes a $25,000 chartered jet from Washington, DC, to Philadelphia – a trip that the rest of us would make with a couple of hours and a train ticket.

It is no wonder that these same politicians don’t understand that their actions – and inactions – have very real consequences for the rest of us.

They don’t want us to know when they settle a harassment complaint, but they have no qualms about passing laws that allow the government to spy on every aspect of our lives.

The failure to fix Obamacare is just a political issue – a game – to politicians

To them, failure to fix Obamacare is just a political issue. They have no concept of the effect on people who actually have to deal with Obamacare and its costs. It’s just a game to them — and job security.

Shame on us – all of us – for allowing an insulated, arrogant political class to grow and prosper in a nation that was founded as a rejection of rulers who set themselves apart from and above the people they supposedly served.

Sunlight is, indeed, a great disinfectant. As abuses become public, the same instinct for self-preservation that drives everything the politicians in Washington do often leads to correction.

I suspect Congress’ secret slush fund for settlements will not survive for long – now that it is no longer secret. That is as it should be.

Power corrupts. We know that. The Founders tried their best to design a system of government that would be accountable and remain subservient to the people it serves.

Holding the politicians accountable is our job.

(Members of Congress listen as to a Joint Session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol on September 8, 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)


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