News flash: Politicians abuse the Constitution when left alone

I’ll believe this when I see it:

If Democrats gain the 15 seats they need to win control of the House — and most analysts think they will — one of the first things the new House will do is restrict or end outright a slew of lobbying practices.

In a little-publicized statement, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House Democratic leader, has promised to change the chamber’s rules to reflect the provisions of her not-so-modestly-named Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006. The months-old measure would, among other things, prohibit House members from accepting gifts and travel from lobbyists or from organizations that employ lobbyists.

Such a reform will be admirable, and an obvious path, given the propensity our current representatives have to whore out the American people for a few extra dollars. But politicians are still politicians, whether they’re riding the bigot wave of the last few years or the reform wave many now believe will occur next Tuesday. I’m still not sold, because too many voters don’t think. Even limited success by Sen. George Allen on the absurd accusation he’s directed at Jim Webb provide enough proof that voters simply look for excuses to vote in a pre-determined manner.

However, this explanation is the meat of this story:

Congress has come close to reining in lobbyists before, and it wound up doing nothing of the kind. Several of the proposals in Pelosi’s bill (H.R. 4682, for you wonks out there) were wending their way through the system but died after lawmakers concluded — incorrectly, it turned out — that voters didn’t care much about congressional “corruption.” Pelosi’s bill, with small modifications, was tested in the House and lost by just three votes.

The problem here is that Congress seems to think that corruption is okay as long as the voters don’t care about it. That’s the same logic that allows legislators to target gays, stirring up animosity and fear to win votes. All around in politics, we’re willing to only inhabit a ridiculous low. We shouldn’t need a scandal to do what’s right. That we wait until there is such a scandal further demonstrates why limited government is the best strategy.