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Lawmakers earn citizens' contempt

November 22, 2014

I found much to agree with in Sheila Suess Kennedy’s Nov. 15 column “A culture of contempt.” Voter turnout, particularly in midterm elections, is embarrassingly low, partisan rhetoric supersedes intelligent discussion of the issues impacting voters and there is a dearth of truly engaging candidates.

However, the point Kennedy fails to acknowledge is the driving force behind this culture of contempt for government.

Politicians’ stretching the bounds of truth is certainly not a new phenomenon. The credibility of campaign “promises” to bring about world peace, part the Red Sea and bridge the partisan divide for a collective Kumbaya moment have long been viewed with skepticism by critical-thinking voters.

But in recent years the debate over the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has taken us to new lows in political dishonesty. Thanks to Jonathan Gruber, we are now being given a glimpse behind the political curtain at the contempt many of our elected officials have for the “stupid” American voter.

Many legitimate concerns over the ACA, dismissed with accusations of fear mongering, continue to be validated as we proceed down the path of implementation, accompanied by claims of “I didn’t know,” “We could have been more clear” and, despite video to the contrary, “That’s not what I said.”

That legislation this far-reaching was passed with minimal contribution and not a single vote from the minority party, against public opinion, and with substantial and willful misrepresentation of how it might impact the average citizen is a testimony to the disdain many in Washington have for those they were elected to serve.

If lack of economic understanding of the American voter needs to be exploited, taxes need to be mislabeled and the public needs to be misled in order to pass law, perhaps the problem isn’t with stupid voters but with bad law. And perhaps when citizens develop contempt for government, it’s rooted in government’s glaringly transparent contempt for citizens.

Jeff W. Baer

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