Dale Cardwell: Left, right and irrelevant

One of the smartest people I know asked me to lunch recently. He knew that I had run for U.S. Senate a few years ago, and was concerned that I had moved too far to the political ___ (what do you think)? It was fascinating conversation, because to this day, I don't think of myself in terms of where I "fit" on the left to right continuum.

In fact, that was probably one of my biggest failings as a candidate; I wouldn't, and still won't back a position or support a claim simply because it fits the "team" philosophy of the two major parties. That doesn't stop people who see themselves as self-appointed "team" leaders from attempting to co-op me, you and everyone, into their particular political camp.

As a candidate, I refused to accept contributions from special interest groups or political action committees, or PACs. That made it hard for special interest groups to decide whether to support me. You see, when they give candidates money, they know it serves as something of an insurance policy that the candidate - if elected - will vote in a manner that advances or protects the group's goals.

Example No. 1: One very nice lady told me she and her group would get behind me in a "big way" if I would agree to help remove firearms from every home in Georgia. For me, that was a fairly easy "no." First (as I told her), I support the Second Amendment, and secondly, no person will ever get elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia if part of their stated position is to eliminate the right of Georgians to own firearms. That didn't matter one bit to this lady. It was more important for her and her group to make a statement than to elect a candidate that could help solve our nation's problems.

Example No. 2: A very passionate man who led a veterans group told me that if I would support a constitutional amendment against flag burning, he and his organization would get behind me in a "big way." Understand, I hate to see our flag desecrated as much as anyone, but as an investigative reporter, I knew - and had reported the fact for years - that our Veterans Administration hospital system was failing our veterans in unimaginable ways.

I explained to this gentleman that I was willing to expose those abuses, and do everything in my power to upgrade the standard of care for thousands of veterans. I was shocked to learn that he really didn't care about that. It was more important to him and his group to make a statement than to elect a candidate that could help solve our nation's problems.

Here's my point: We seek candidates who most closely reflect our views for what's best for the United States of America. The problem is the only candidates who will wind up on your ballot are the candidates who have agreed to accept money from the interest groups who are passionate about individual (and often irrelevant) crusades. There is no powerful interest group to promote (and more importantly) leverage that power to demand action on deficit reduction. There is no powerful interest group to demand action on entitlement reform. There is no powerful interest group to demand action that results in our energy independence as a nation.

Between now and Election Day, you will hear a lot of platitudes from the candidates. Know that they want to do the right thing, but they will have to do what the people who paid for their election expect them to do. People get the government they deserve.

For great consumer advice and companies you can trust, visit TrustDale.com, watch Dale on TrustDale TV weekends on Fox 5, and listen to TrustDale Radio on Saturday afternoons on News Talk WSB.

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