As politics becomes less about compromise and more about ideological allegiances, less about the good of the country and more about personal political interest, one can start losing trust in the government. In the Athena Doctrine study, we found that 85% of people think problems are better solved by local communities than the government. The recent blow up about Hurricane Sandy aid for the Northeast is yet another frustrating episode for citizens who see their elected leaders let their personal motivations get in the way of the greater good.
After several weeks of fiscal cliff discussions before the end of the year, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, decided to push off a vote on billions of dollars of aid for Hurricane Sandy victims until Congress resumed in January. The $9.7 billion dollar bill, part of a larger package, provides FEMA with an increased borrowing authority, assuring that aid can continue to be given to those affected by the storm. Without the bill, the White House stated that "more than 100,000 flood claim payments from Sandy would be delayed". Boehner's decision to put off a vote that had already been stalled for weeks was widely criticized by both Republicans and Democrats. After intense pressure, especially from political leaders from New York and New Jersey, the bill easily passed the House after the new Congress convened last week.
There is much speculation about why Boehner delayed the vote. According to the New York Times, Boehner didn't want to alienate his conservative supporteres by forcing a vote on a disaster aid bill that would only add to the country's deficit right before the vote on whether he would continue as speaker. After several Republicans threatened to withhold support for his reelection, Boehner quickly pledged his support for the bill and promised to hold a vote to pass the remainder of the aid package on January 15th. His decision to put personal gain ahead of disaster aid for thousands hurt not only his reputation, but the entire GOP's.
When we see politicians holding disaster relief hostage for personal political gain, can we really blame people for not believing government is on their side?