Neil Brian Goldberg
House of Cards
By Neil Brian Goldberg
December 23, 2013

I had a chance to watch some episodes of the TV series "House of Cards." If you don't know, it is a fascinating series about how Washington D.C. works.

One part of the fourth episode (as I recall) was about a crucial vote on whether or not to close a big shipyard in Philadelphia, an action that which would cost 12,000 jobs.

There was a big struggle between the unions and other entities to go one way or another. The House Whip, the master puppeteer, had an agenda of his own, and he was manipulating and juggling several issues to get what he was after.

Here is what caused me to realize a simple, and so obvious, principle of life, politics, and diverted/warped patriotism.

The House Whip needed a number of votes on one issue, so he made a deal with the leader of the Black Caucus to get those un-gettable votes from him. Part of the "in return" was that his shipyard would not be closed. Philadelphia would close instead.

So how was this amazing political contortion act accomplished? The Whip knew that he could get the congressman from Pennsylvania to do an unimaginable, illogical, "why-in-the-world" turn-around to actually persuade this man – who wanted to come through for the union and the people who were counting on him – to completely betray them.

How many times have we asked, concerning an unbelievable and totally disappointing vote coming from someone who absolutely should have voted the other way but blatantly betrayed us all – why!?, how!??

I used to say, "There must be something in the water in D.C. that completely changes a person once they get there," but now I know.

I finally understand the sad, sad, pathetic state of American politics and the reasons for our downward spiral.

One dark, rainy night, the congressman from Pennsylvania was stopped by the police and arrested for drunk driving and for having a prostitute in his car. He was supposed to be a genuine family man. The local unions liked him, the leaders knew him, and they trusted him to fight for their shipyard as he had sworn to do.

...But the Whip found out about the arrest. He used his power to make it all disappear, but he had the goods on the congressman from Pennsylvania.

When the Whip needed to kill the Pennsylvania shipyard to get the deals he needed, he leaned on the congressman to do what he ordered. The congressman wanted to say no, but the same lack of virtue, that caused his arrest and subsequent capture (by the Whip), and that same weakness and lack of willpower, rendered him unable to refuse.

The big hearing came, and the Pennsylvania congressman, who was supposed to speak out and fight hard to save the Philadelphia shipyard, instead leaned into the mike and said he had nothing to add.

His union friends and the 12,000 workers from his district could not believe or understand his betrayal. What happened? How could he?

...No, it wasn't the D.C. water. It wasn't even a good old bribe.

It was and is the systemic problem permeating the closets, the private apartments, the limos and the accounts, and the characters of our "elected" representatives.

Their lack of virtue left them open to scandal, intimidation, and blackmail.

...And that same selfish lack of morals, personal integrity, and simple backbone robs them of all intestinal fortitude and courage, and forbids them from considering any show of decency.

Any of you, at any level of power, who may happen to be reading this, you would most likely not consider yourself unpatriotic. You believe you are loyal to the nation (I hope so)...but I say to you, when you ignore the time-tested principles of right behavior, when you pretend depravity and sloth are somehow acceptable because "everyone does it," when you hear yourself say, "When in Rome," and most of all when you ignore and make a mockery of the sacred oath of office that you swore before God to remain stalwart and defend our inspired Constitution, then you are indeed betraying your nation, as much as the lowest scoundrel.

You render yourself helpless to stand in the gap for freedom because you slay your own courage to resist and overcome all obstacles for the cause of liberty, and because you become accustomed to walking with no backbone and lose the ability to summon the inner strength and faith necessary to fight for our nation's future.

The same lack of virtue, the same lack of self-control, the same flight from inner fear, will not allow you to say no rather than hurt your country...and this Sir or Madam, perhaps unwittingly, perhaps even unconsciously, makes you a traitor.

...And so, the House of Cards rattles and shakes, while the "aristocracy" of Washington D.C. and capitals of every state party on – convincing each other they are good and right. They exchange awards and accolades, slice the meat with their knives, and enjoy the gravy, while the people hope that somehow these public officials will decide to do something decent, but they can't.

© Neil Brian Goldberg


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Neil Brian Goldberg

Neil Brian Goldberg is an accomplished musician, songwriter, arranger, producer, radio host, writer, and activist originally from Philadelphia... (more)


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