Politicians: No Worse than We Deserve

There’s a lot of gnashing of teeth in the land right now about politicians, along with the usual jokes about them being leeches, and lawyers being politicians in larval form, and all that.  “Everyone knows” that politicians always lie, that they’re all corrupt, etc. etc. etc.  

Well, what in the nine hells do people expect?  We get the politicians we’ve asked for.  The reason there are so many assholes in government isn’t that power attracts the corruptible, but that we’ve made it so only those who play the game can get elected.  

Only those who impress the right people can get the money to run for higher office.  Honest, hardworking types might become school board members (ha!) or city board members, but they’re probably not going much higher than that without playing some games and getting some nice contributions to their election funds.  

We can pretend all we want that we live in an egalitarian society, but how many “average joes” have been elected to the highest offices in the land in the last fifty years?  Ever? 

Then there’s the way we choose our candidates.

For years now, certainly my whole life, we as a public–not you, necessarily, and sometimes but not always me, but we the American public–have voted for or against amendments, as well as Measures and Propositions, not on whether or not those things are good or bad for the city, state, or nation, but whether or not we agree with them personally.  And that’s ok, really.  

Where it’s NOT ok is when we choose our representatives that way.  We should be electing those who are most likely to go the way we want, sure, but the important thing is that we should be electing those who will use their minds to make decisions for us (because like it or not, that’s what our representatives do in a Representative Democracy, or Republic) based on two things: the facts, and what’s best for the nation.  Not on one or two issues that we think are more important than they probably are. 

Many voters pick one or two issues they are really passionate about, and then they elect largely based on those pet causes.  Who cares if Candidate A has a great economic policy; he wants to make gay marriage illegal!  Who cares if that guy supports gay marriage, he wants to abolish prayer in federal buildings!   Let’s elect this idiot who has NO WORKABLE IDEAS AT ALL, because he hates the Department of Education as much as I do!  Woohoo!!! Hey, look, a handbasket!! Why’s it on a zipline going down?  

As long as we insist on electing only those people who pass our singular litmus tests, instead of the candidate who overall will use his or her head more than their wallet to vote, then we’re going to get jerks in office.  

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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