If Rip Van Winkle woke from a 20-year sleep today, he would not recognize current political facts of life. Citizens’ common sense is deep asleep.

While today’s citizens and states struggle with budgets to make ends meet, the federal government has spent taxes for three years without a budget. The people — a nation of Van Winkles — have responded with only a peep of disapproval.

In advance of the pending elections, political parties spend millions on muddy balls of fractured facts, ludicrous lingo and boastful beatitudes.

The ads work because politicians know we’re dumb enough to jive the junk.

In 2009, 47 percent of income tax filers paid no tax. At the same time, the top fifth of taxpayers paid 70 percent of all taxes. Even so, we hear that the “rich” must pay more. The federal government doesn’t need a budget when taxation is in hand.

Maine taxpayers spend millions funding a Clean Election Law, sans evidence politicians are rendered “cleaner.” All the while, we suffer some candidates who violate the law by using those funds for personal gain.

Still, media regularly report plural pleasantries voiced across the state for continuous and even expanded use of the law. Where’s common sense?

In England, citizens elect a party and its leader becomes prime minister. Coalitions are sometimes formed.

Here, campaigns spend millions upon millions. Arguably, our votes are bought!

This November, ballot in hand, it would be stimulating to hark back to Washington Irving’s 1819 story about Rip Van Winkle and apply some refreshing common sense when selecting folk to do our business in Washington. Sleep at the polls; wake to nightmares.

John Benoit


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