Oh! My! GOD! I said it. I actually accepted responsibility for my atrocious public service. I am an addicted politician. Like many others I thought I could control myself. My hopes for the future of my golf game depended on my control over my tan – but again, vanity won and here I am. I have finally reached the bottom.
It all started innocently enough. After high school it took me nine years to get a bachelors degree. Then I went to work at a small plastics and packaging company. After some success I accepted a position as a Union Township Trustee in 1982. As I reflect back I can see now that I lost control with the attention of the public. My tan was glowing in the spotlight of public admiration. But like all addicts, it was not enough.
We all think we can control it. But one thing leads to another and then our ego swells with the potential of power and money – not to mention excessive time to develop our golf game. Even with my new addiction I have been able to put aside an hour every day for proper tanning. My biological system requires extra vitamin D. With golf and tanning secured I ran for the State Legislature. Normal people do not realize the infusion of ego that comes with a State wide office. But like all political addicts it was not enough.
Congress beckoned. I was elected to Congress in 1990. It was a good time to be a Republican. Our fortunes were made on the back of a distorted Reagan agenda and we rode the wave. I remember Newt Gingrich talking up the 1994 Contract With America. All I had to do was sign up, play some golf, work on my tan, and Newt mixed his potion of black magic. We can see in retrospect that this potion led directly to the rise of Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and their puppet George W. Bush. All of us were filled with the emotional rush of power. Bush won the 2000 election, in a manner of speaking, and my time had come.
We can see the results of political addiction. I worked on education reform – and just look at our current education system. No Child Left Behind was one of my greatest projects. I worked hard on Congressional Ethics – and we can see the obvious results. Actually, I did not work too hard. Usually when I finished my afternoon golf game I stopped by the Capital to see if anyone had done anything that day. Sometimes there were other Republicans around who asked me to sign off on their bills. As a result, my name is associated with most of the legislation passed during the George Bush Administration.
I worked hard to get tax cuts for rich people after the September 11, 2001 attacks. I supported the Iraq War and agreed to borrow the money from China. That way the Republicans look smart. We knew at the time that the Democrats would probably win the White House so we left them with a big mess – that way we can blame them for the problems. I am told that this is how an active addiction influences thought processes.
My greatest pride was in the 2006 effort at securing pension protection laws to help people better prepare for tomorrow. Now, in 2010, most Americans pensions and life savings are worth about half of what they were in 2006 when I fixed the pension problem. Clearly American people have benefited in unexpected ways from my work.
The point is simple. Addicted politicians will say anything to agree with their Party. The Party in return gives you money. Agreeing with no consideration for right and wrong, no consideration for the impact on our country, and no consideration for the American people is standard fare for politicians.
Now I find myself at a crossroads. Do I continue golfing and tanning? Does my leadership role in the Republican Party – the party of George W. Bush – interfere with my long established principles of self gratification?
My children are grown now. I fear they have never known me with out the influence of politics. I am told by the addiction professionals that this is normal. The constant self-aggrandizing of the addict often interferes with family relationships. I have now been an official Republican Politician for thirty years. Am I proud? Well, that depends. Who is asking? And what is their motive?
Thank you for taking time to listen to me. This effort has convinced me that I actually don’t belong in this meeting. My life is not unmanageable and the only higher power I care to turn my life over to is Mitch McConnell. I am really not interested in a searching and fearless moral inventory. And there are few people that I care to make amends to. There is no way that I will commit to practicing Christian principles in every area of my life.