Saturday, February 25, 2012

We the Lasagna Eaters?

My opinion on politicians stems from graduate school, when the professor asked for the best definition of the word politics.

Do I have to tell you who won? I told him that I thought politics was the art of displeasing the least amount of people.

Of course, I could really grow to like a politician. If one came along and said that, if elected, the first thing he was going to do was float a measure that would make term limits mandatory…well, that guy, I might like to hang out with.

Elected office was never envisioned as a career or even an occupation by the Founding Fathers. They saw it as a duty. If elected, a man would leave his farm, serve a particular amount of time, then—having done his duty—would return to his plow, allowing another of his neighbors to then go and serve.

If you think that’s a little pie-in-the-sky-ish, you should look up the background of Cincinnati—not the city in Ohio, per se, but its name. More precisely—Cincinnatus—the man from whom that town took its name. I won’t explain it to you now, but look it up. It will go a long way in clarifying how this republic of ours is supposed to work.

A lot of what has happened to our government is simple public perception. Ask where the government is located and you’ll get a stock answer. National government, well, that’s in Washington; State government, Harrisburg in Pennsylvania; city government, well heck, that’s in City Hall.

And how many times have you heard a sentence begin with the phrase, “When Reagan was running the country…” or  “When Clinton was running the country…”

But government in this country does not (or at least it’s not supposed to) reside in a city or a building. And presidents are not supposed to “run” the country, any more than Congressmen are supposed to run their districts.

Presidents administer our government for us. That’s why their office is called “The Administration.” And Congressmen represent their districts the way senators represent their states.

You see, the government is not located in Washington, D.C., Trenton, New Jersey, Bismarck, North Dakota, or in some historic building at Broad and Market streets in Philadelphia. Government in this republic resides in the people. That’s why the Preamble begins the way it does.

I know I’ve oversimplified this, but if you gave me three hundred pages instead of three hundred words, I couldn’t make it any clearer. We are the government. And the next politician that makes that point clear…well, aside from getting my vote, he just might be the first politician that gets invited to my home for lasagna.

And although you’ll find some good stuff on my Web site:, you will not find my lasagna recipe. That’s one thing that doesn’t belong to We, the People.