Monday, December 19, 2005

Politicians - victims of the system?

The longer I live, the more I believe that politicians are what we make them or what we allow them to be.

I'm no fan of President Bush. Trust. However, there are very few monsters in this world, if any. That includes G-Dub (as someone on another site refers to him). While I'm convinced his values are different than mine and that his actions make him unfit for public service and worthy of impeachment or prosecution... I do NOT believe every fucked-up thing he does is simply due to his own fucked-up values.

This is gonna be tricky, but what I'm trying to say is that WE are much more responsible for Bush's, and other politicians', actions than we like to admit. Why? Because we developed and allowed a system that rewards over-simplification by way of soundbites. Politicians who want to succeed seem obligated to learn and master the rules of the game - or in some people's cases, get a coach who knows the game well and follow his or her lead. Playing the game of over-simplification in an arena of complexities means you've got to present gray issues as black or white and you've got to defend your stance with "little white lies," currently prospering under the new label and guise of "spin." We reward our politicians for lying.

When the September 11th attacks took place, how supportive would we (collectively) have been of a President who preached on and lived by the value of diplomacy and patience? How much would we have been behind a President who WASN'T interested in finding the most convenient targets and then kicking hell out of them? Not very much, in my opinion because that attack damaged us in ways other than the physical. Our pride was wounded, as well. If someone throws sand in your eyes, then kicks hell out of you, but you never seen him... when you open your eyes, what would you do? I think the honest answer for a LOT of people would be, "Kick the closest ass." We value vengeance far more than justice.

We deride politicians for partisanship, yet we believe in "strength in numbers" by way of unions AND some of us vote based on a candidate's party affiliation, instead of the issues he or she supports and opposes. While preaching on the evils of partisanship, we pause to criticize this party or that one for not having a unified message and platform. How DARE individual members have and share different opinions on the issues?! We overlook the fact that, let's say, the Democrats agree on the problem, but have different ideas about the solution. That doesn't sound so bad to me. We extoll virtues even when they contradict each other.

It's a situation with mixed results, to be honest. For all of our contradictions, we still produce decent results sometimes. Sometimes people with great values and intentions become great politicians, but lousy representatives because they adapt too well to the game - the game we "make" them play. Sometimes people with poor values and intentions do great things, because they know it'll result in political capital and high numbers. I'm not saying it's the worst system out there. I'm just saying it's got certain basic flaws that we keep conveniently overlooking and, if we TRULY want this world to advance, then we need to look at the basic trends in ourselves and in this society and re-evaluate.

For all his short-comings, Mike was right about "The Man in the Mirror."

No comments: