US Sen. Evan Bayh (D) of Indiana has just resigned and shocked Americans to the reality of a “broken” Washington. He hints, in so many words, of frustration at the “endless campaigning and fundraising” (for re-election) even during their term of office, which prevent elected officials from serving the people. Instead they focus on pleasing “deep-pocketed” special interest groups.

Indeed, there was a time when officials elected in the US were known for their ability to work in a bipartisan manner outside of campaign periods. Democrats and Republicans used to routinely work out their differences on critical national issues for the sake of the greater good. Well, not anymore. Many legislators agree with Senator Bayh that “tactical maneuvering” of elected officials for “short-term political advantage” rather than focusing on the greater good has broken Washington.

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But there is hope for America because of politicians like Senator Bayh. Precisely because he resigned to protest this “brokenness,” Washington might not be “broken” yet but just breaking. It could, however, reach a “breaking” point should US-elected officials persist in imitating their counterparts in underdeveloped Philippines whose elected officials campaign and raise funds 24/7, 30/12 for their re-election, favoring personal vested interests and neglecting the greater good.

The term “broken” would best apply, therefore, to the Philippine situation for the simple fact that government in this country has never been whole. It has always been a “broken” dysfunctional government because there are almost as many parties as there are politicians. Decisions on program priorities and corresponding budget allocations have never been based on party creed or vision (what that?). The only question they ask before deciding on any issue is: “Will it help me (with my son or wife as proxy?) get re-elected?”

This situation is abetted by self-serving campaign guidelines that apply only during the very short “official campaign period.” Outside of that period, for instance, there are no spending limits. But the plain truth is that the over campaigning and over spending happen during elected officials’ terms of office when they decide in favor of projects and budget allocations that will get them the political advantage of a re-election.

After Senator Bayh’s resignation, a poll showed that 44 percent of Americans do not want incumbents re-elected. We in the Philippines should probably have a law against re-election so the country’s resources are not wasted in endless campaigning.

But how can we have such a law when all that our legislators do, while in office, is raise funds and campaign for their re-election?