Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thank Your Politician for Carrying the Burdens of Democracy

Money talks. Bullshit walks -- Richard M. Nixon
Here is a definition of politics we ought to seriously consider: Politics is the craft (art, science?) of reconciling disparate goals to common means. It is a means of holding together what otherwise would deteriorate into warring communities. Americans are a mish-mash of peoples who, were it not for our vast country, would be at each others’ throats more often than not.

A favorite past-time of us All-Knowers is to make fun of politicians. Consequently, every last one of us who imagines we might run for public office insists that we will never be like the incumbents: “I may lie, I may cheat and I may steal; but I will never be a Politician.”

Most of us, however, will not run for office. Who really wants a job where you have to put up with:
1. Listening to likely ignorant, greedy people whine that they don’t have enough of what they want; or
2. Listening to people whine that other ignorant and greedy people have more than they deserve of what the Whiners want; or
3. Ingratiating yourself with ignorant, often obnoxious but wealthy petitioners to get funding to continue in your job; or
4. Avoiding entanglement with morally deficient “operators” ready to drag you into risking your reputation or life in shady, if not illegal, activities; and, finally,
5. Missing a great deal of the joys of private life, e.g. watching your kids grow up, or just hanging out with friends, rather than with “connections.”?
We’re just too busy with our own concerns, we Americans. Too busy to read, too busy to watch anything “serious” on TV. Too busy to get involved in all but, even begrudgingly, a very few of the activities, e.g. voting, that promise us more or less an immediate “return” on our “investment” of time and concern.

Unless, of course, getting involved has to do with our ideological “Truths,” or our religious “Faith,” on which we spend a great deal of time and money to proselytize for or to protect from the vast majority of other so-called Americans -- very likely born in Kenya, or some other God-forsaken hole -- “Americans” who do not fervently hold to our personal dogmas.

Politicians, God Help Us, are the guardians of our freedoms. They work at it, rather than just bad-mouthing it. They’re hardly saints, but if we had to wait for saints, we could give up on any resemblance of government with the consent of the governed. And if we waited to support them until they agreed with our beliefs down to the last letter, we’d be long buried along with this society we take so much from yet give back to so miserly.

For references and to examine these issues further, see Productivity, Politics and Hypocrisy in American Public Education

--- EGR

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