I discovered a letter to the editor that I wrote the day after the 2000 election. This was pre-9/11, pre-Dubya debacle. So my comments shouldn't be taken as over-influenced by all that has happened in the last 7 years. It's just maddeningly true.
Well, the campaigns are over. But I can only say that they have reinforced my belief that all officeholders and candidates for office should be prohibited from using two phrases: "special interests" and "the American people."
These two get trotted out in ad after ad and speech after speech, one always as the group to be vilified and one as the group to be championed. But who is who?
Think about it: If the AARP proposes legislation regarding Social Security, is it the work of a special-interest group? Or is it fighting for the retired portion of the American people? It's both. If a guy spends his life building up his business, no government handouts, plays by the rules, and then has to defend himself against environmental laws that didn't exist when he started, is that a "special interest" (it's certainly special to him) or is he just trying to hold onto the American dream that we're all supposed to be striving for?
And what's wrong with "the American People"? Well, that term includes CEOs and the homeless, gays and straights, polygamists and abortion-clinic bomb-ers, conservatives and liberals and everything in between. All of these have beliefs that they will espouse and fight/defend, many in organized fashion. Our blessed constitution says that if you're born here, or if you take the oath of citizenship, then what you believe is immaterial. You may be oil to your neighbor's water, but you're all in the same geographic pot.
So we are all the American people and we all have special interests. Be careful when you champion or demonize either one--for you are both.