By Tom Ehrich

Last week, two colleagues and I walked 20 blocks to look at office space.

We like where we are, but we’re contemplating a new level of collaboration. A colleague told the rental manager our specifications and price limits.

No problem, the manager said. They could handle it.

As it turned out, of course, the manager had no offices remotely close to our specifications. Prices were three times our limit. It was a “bait-and-switch.” She just wanted us inside her door.

I am feeling that way about our government in Washington. All three branches of government vowed to serve the American people and to defend the Constitution. It was a bait-and-switch.

Congress isn’t close to serving and defending. They focus on welcoming special interests and their moneybags, ignoring the interests of the American people, cosseting the wealthy at every turn, while waging war on the poor, the sick and the young.

Barack Obama clearly wanted to be President more than he wanted to do the work of President. By staying aloof from the grimy side of politics, he has delivered us into the destructive hands of Congress. He campaigned against the least competent President in US history but then continued many of his heinous policies. He proposes lofty ideas — the bait — but then stands down when Congressional Republicans push back.

The Supreme Court majority seem to function as a tool of the wealthy. They seem to scorn the vulnerable.

The problem isn’t “big government.” It is incompetent government. It is excessive favor for the wealthy and disdain toward all others. It is a system where elections change the balance of party labels, but the content remains unchanged. When elected officials serve themselves and their cronies, and when top appointed officials serve ideology, there isn’t much left for ordinary citizens.

I don’t agree with anti-government types that the answer to this bait-and-switch is to wage war on government. That war would benefit the wealthy and hurt everyone else.

The answer is to vote, to organize, to demand accountability, to pay more attention to character and experience, and to ignore the blather, no matter how lofty it sounds.