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(CNN) -- CNN.com readers roundly ripped the American government this week, laying blame on everyone from greedy, arrogant, incompetent politicians to the voters who elected them.
Rather than ask CNN political contributors, hundreds of readers took it upon themselves to ask and answer, "What's wrong with Washington?" Money in politics -- what Roger Blanton of Woodland Hills, California, called the "idolization of corporations" -- have many urging campaign finance reform, lobbying restrictions and term limits.
These largely negative views mirror recent polling, including two CNN polls released this week that found almost three-quarters of Americans believe Congress is out of touch with voters and more than half think the institution is corrupt. (Full story)
Below is a sample of e-mail responses, some of which have minor edits for grammar and clarity:
We used to have a government of the people, for the people. But now it's of big business, for big business. Influence peddling has crippled our government and allowed them to make decisions that are not good for America. It's time to take back our government and elect people who will get rid of the carpet baggers, eh, influence peddlers.
If each party ... would put the effort they expend on arguing with each other into solving the problems this country faces we would all benefit greatly. What does it take for these people to get it -- an act of Congress!
I feel the present officeholders have been in power way too long and have become extremely arrogant and complacent. Simply voting for the other party is no better. We need a clean sweep all the way down the line, and to get people in office who will work for the good of the country. Our government should be run more like a business, where people are accountable for their actions through penalties/punishment.
The problem is lack of backbone ... I haven't seen one senator or congressman who has not waffled or waivered on any issue being deliberated or discussed in those hallowed halls. Surely, somewhere in this great country, there is a person willing to run for office who can't be compromised, bought, bribed, and who is willing to say what he "really" thinks, political correctness be damned.
Our worldwide credibility is in the toilet. Every move has been a corporate giveaway at the expense of the public. And the worst part is that [President] Bush can't believe that he has made any mistakes at all.
Corruption has spread its ugly tentacles through every part of our government. We are living in a near-fascist society and our government is in bed with corporate America. Times have changed from 230 years ago, and I doubt our forefathers could have seen this coming. I see no solution to this mess.
Welcome to the nanny state... It seems every whiny non-smoker feels they have the constitutional "right" to not be bothered by anybody else in any fashion, no matter where they go... I'm glad I won't be around to see the destruction of America that Pollyana politicos have in store. If I had realized that George Orwell's vision was correct, I never would've had children. I'm ashamed this is what society has for my kids and grandkids to inherit.
What is really wrong in Washington is mainly ... the control of the Senate and House by Republicans. Total control by one party causes corruption, ineptitude, improper conduct and ineffectiveness.
Whether you vote for the Republican or Democratic party, it doesn't make any difference because both parties are owned by the big corporations or special interest groups. What this country really needs is a third party, whose main objective is to legislate for the common good, not for special interest groups. The other partial solution is term limitations: It has to be changed to no more than two terms. But this will never happen.
Everything is wrong with Washington. What do you expect when you have a group of crooked, deceitful, perverted, egocentric, holier-than-thou people who think they have all the answers? I guess even more is wrong with this country, since a lot of people in it voted for them.
Both Republicans and Democrats say they are good for the middle class. Yet all their actions speak just the opposite. When the day is done and the votes are cast, the bills are written by a lobbyist and millions or billions of pork is attached. I'm a Republican and am completely frustrated by the lack of leadership. I really don't think anyone who is elected to [Congress] is honest anymore. Just look at the energy bill -- $800 billion for the oil industry -- or better, the lack of guts to do anything with health care.
We get the government we deserve. We hire some of the worst people to represent us, because anyone with any sense wants nothing to do with the job. Most of us don't even vote. How can we blame the politicians when we don't even vote? We don't need a flag burning amendment, we need one that requires you to vote ... It shouldn't be a right, it should be a duty.
Washington seems to exist of itself, by itself and for itself. The people we have elected to office have forgotten their job is to speak for all of us.
CNN SPECIAL PROGRAMMINGCNN's "Broken Government" explores all branches of government this week at 8 and 11 p.m. ET. The topics: Monday, Congress; Tuesday, the Democratic Party; Thursday, the power of the presidency; Friday, the GOP and the conservative base; Saturday, the judicial branch.
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