The Re-election Enterprise
Can you imagine a process where politicians use public money to buy votes from businesses, bureaucrats, lobbyists, technocrats, the non-profit industrial complex and other elected officials? There is.
Projects and programs. This is how most politicians get re-elected. I wish I could tell you the good news on tax and spend politicians, but they often get re-elected under the appearance of "doing something". Many of these projects and programs cannot be quantified, they fill no demand and politicians have no motivation to measure the success or failure.
The Politician After a successful bid for elected office, a politician will go through an exciting and congratulatory honeymoon phase. Once this phase wears off, the starry eyed individual comes to realize very quickly that there are two paths moving forward. One path is difficult, principled and philosophical; it involves undergoing an immense amount of pressure and using the word "no" often. The politician will have to be able to tell bureaucrats, lobbyists, technocrats, the non-profit industrial complex and other elected officials to buzz off and then articulate why. The other path, the easy one, requires that the politician becomes a person of unquestioning obedience to the system. The politician will learn the proper terminology, words like partnership and collaboration, which is code for spending public money. Private-public partnerships, which is code word for spending public money on private businesses or "nonprofits". There will be many photo opportunities to pose with a hard hat and shovel, with the ultimate goal of re-election. This is the re-election enterprise.
Projects and Programs
Locally, the Wishkah Wall, the Gateway Enterprise Center, and Blue Zones are a few examples that are terrible for the taxpayer but good for politicians and their social media scores. The appearance of "doing something" is gold in politics when most are entertained with bread and circuses. The Gateway Enterprise Center has been discussed for many years, buildings have been torn down, land set aside, money spent on consultation and planning. Yet there is no clear vision as to what this Aberdeen building will be. Don't believe me? Aberdeen Councilman Alan Richrod emailed Council President Dee Anne Shaw in April of 2021 about what the new building might be. Richrod said, "What about the idea of making the Gateway Center the new City Hall? Before you say no, hear me out." Councilman Richrod went on to say, "We are all worried about how we will get the Gateway Center to pay for itself." The 20,000 square foot 7 million dollar building will be a "grand welcome to the city" according to the former councilman. He said, "I know others on the Council would support exploring the idea." Keep in mind, local politicians are the farm team for bigger seats at the state and federal level. They are what we can expect in the future. Take Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer for example. He was first elected as a member of the Washington State House, then was elected in the Washington State Senate and now serves as a US Congressman. The federal government has ramped up the re-election enterprise after it recently reinstated the earmark process which has been gone since 2011. Just recently, Congressman Kilmer earmarked $12,529,355 in the $1.5 Trillion dollar spending bill. This isn't a partisan issue either, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse earmarked $10,742,500 and Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler earmarked $4,791,390 in the same bill. There is hope though. The re-election enterprise can be overcome with grit and hard work. Newly elected State Senator, Jeff Wilson of Longview is proof. He beat incumbent Senator, Dean Takko in a landslide victory in the 19th Legislative District receiving 57.2% of the vote. During the campaign, Senator Takko highlighted his earmark for the Pacific County Drug Task Force for $391,000 and a $700,000 earmark for the Highway 12 Rail Separation Project in Aberdeen.
The re-election enterprise is alive and well in the State of Washington. Right now, there is one party rule in the state House, Senate and in the Governor's seat. It is easy for the ruling party to maintain the status quo through the re-election enterprise. Democrats have their project lists in each district and will use public money to fund the projects and programs through earmarks when a formidable opponents steps out of the shadows. It is a self serving, pay to play scheme. The Result
We get bad politicians that have no qualms about putting us, our children and grandchildren into financial bondage. These spending habits have come home to roost as inflation. We are starting to feel it at the gas pump, the grocery store and it appears that it will get much worse before it gets better. Defund the re-election enterprise. Stop electing tax and spend politicians. You decide, at the ballot box.