Better leaders needed to run America

17 years ago

To the editor:
Many Americans complain about the quality of government. There are several reasons why such complaints seem valid; the most glaring of these are (1) we elect too many scoundrels to political office and (2) those elected too often appoint other people as aides, subordinate officials, or advisors. When incompetent, lower primarily self-interested individuals, and proven cheats, liars, and law breakers are elected or appointed, we can easily predict disaster for our nation, state, or local community.
   Some examples to illustrate what I mention above are: Illinois Governor George Ryan was convicted of corruption and racketeering charges in 2006. Ohio Congressman Jim Traficant was convicted of bribery and racketeering in 2002. The Vice President’s Chief of Staff Louis Libby was convicted of obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI in 2007. Vice President Spiro Agnew was convicted of corruption in 1973. A Louisiana Congressman was found to have $90,000 in his freezer and was re-elected. Numerous lobbyists have been found to have bribed, illegally contributed to, and/or otherwise subverted Congress members in recent years. Various city councilmen, lower state officials, and federal cabinet officials like Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger have gotten into legal trouble and others have escaped legal entanglement but have been forced to resign their posts.
This is only a small sampling of miscreant elected and appointed officials who have soiled and disgraced their offices and caused corrupt governance. Causes for such flawed elections and appointments range from apathetic and lazy citizens not knowing about or not caring about the character and background of candidates; superior officials seeking subordinates who will act illegally or scurrilously for their boss’ advantage; and officials who offer incompetent or questionable financial campaign supporters positions to which they ought not be appointed to.
The old saying: “We get the government we deserve” is apt here; we must be aware, vigilant, and demanding of our officials to make solid appointments and to be fully forthcoming when running for office. I recommend that all political candidates be made to undergo full FBI backgrounds check and have those results made fully public. If candidates feel they cannot handle such scrutiny, they ought not serve in positions of public trust.

Ken Petress
Presque Isle