I hear many of my fellow citizens complaining that our country's problems are a function of elected officials such as George Bush and Dick Chaney. Nothing, in my view, could be further from the truth. Our problems are not a function of these, or other, individuals. They are a function of the political philosophy these individuals represent. We don't need different individuals. We need a different philosophy.

Ronald Regan first, and well, articulated the philosophy that Republicans and 'Regan Democrats' have brought to full, post-millennium, flower, 'Government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.' When you believe that government is the sand in your society's engine, you don't hope to create 'good sand.' Thus, the advocates of this philosophy do not aim to create 'good government' because government itself is the problem. They look to private corporations, and the individuals who control them, to run society while pandering to those whose only objection to the structure of Iranian government is that it is a Muslim rather than a Christian theocracy.

When you believe 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help' is the punch line of a joke, it will be. Witness our federal government's post-war occupation of Iraq. Even though the Iraq War was concocted, it also was over in 2003: 'Mission accomplished.' However, our long running post-war occupation efforts have shown just how badly things go when, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help' is a joke: Thousands of Americans dead, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead, hundreds of billions of dollars wasted, and our reputation as an advocate for human rights trashed.

We do not have to agree with a political philosophy that can only elect people to public office who have no interest in good government because they regard government itself as a prime social ill. We do not need to follow a new set of individuals with the same old philosophy that mandates government incompetence and generates a corporate oligarchy ruling under a theocratic, nationalistic or other banner. In a country such as ours now is, where about 20 percent of the population has about 85 percent of the net worth, this philosophy will always have some strong advocates. However, we need not agree with 'more of the same.'

We can instead support a philosophy that aims to ensure government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not only continue on the earth, but returns to the land of its birth. We can support a philosophy that makes 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help,' an aspiration instead of a joke. Rather than rejecting individuals such as George Bush and Dick Cheney, we can reject the philosophy on which they govern.

Hank Robb is a resident of Lake Oswego.

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