What is wrong with politics? Ever give it any thought? Better yet, ever meditate on it?
When I look at politicians I see conundrum. Some have desires to lead or to rule. Some have desires to facilitate and manage. Many are attracted to fame, power, and money.
I see many of them as ordinary men and women trying to make changes in reality, trying to do "good", trying to help people. I also see many of them using politics as a method to increase wealth and personal power.
The system in the US (which is all I know about being I'm a land locked US citizen) has been corrupted to the extent that a noble person will not go near the it without being changed by it. We idealize the concept of the politician. Look at it from the perspective of the politician.
- I must be perfect in the public eye.
- I must never make mistakes.
- I must be intelligent, thoughtful, charismatic, a great public speaker, a great actor, and a great diplomat
- I must have good ideas.
- I must have a strong desire to change things for the better.
- I must be a good leader.
The list is larger than this, but do you see the intense idealism we place on them? We expect them to be that which we cannot be ourselves. When they fail to live up to those completely impossible expectations, we stop voting for them.
Instead of giving them a chance to be human, to make mistakes, learn and grow, once we see their human foibles, we vote them out and choose another guy onto whom we've project a belief of false perfection. We set them on a pedestal and when they fall we say "humph!" and go get another to place on the pedestal.
Its a very difficult position to be in, don't you think? They are, after all, only human: how can we expect them to live up to ideals that no one can live up to?
If you examine the great politicians of the last few decades, you see an almost glassy eyed fiction built around them. Oh they were great because of this or that, but this and that are not entirely true. I have never found anyone who didn't have at least one significant fault. And yet we believe that politicians should be without fault.
That's a horrible thing for us to do, don't you think?
I think our criteria for "good politician / politics" needs to be upgraded. Here are some suggestions:
- First and foremost: I don't care about the politician's personal life unless it interferes with his ability to perform his job, to lead / guide us. Seriously people, drop the scandal crap: it does not matter who's shagging whom; it does not matter that he has a faith or no faith; it does not matter what his other jobs were; it only matters if they are interfering with his ability to perform his job.
- What matters most how well a politician learns from his mistakes.
- The will of the people is fickle. A good politician sees that and smooths out the knee jerk reactions of the masses and guides us toward a path which is positive, healthy and efficient.
- The forefathers separated church and state for a reason. Likewise we need to separate business and state. Most importantly, politicians who are shown to be influenced by business interests need to be punished along with the businesses who are influencing them.
- So called "wing" politics needs to go away. The whole ideology behind conservatism and liberalism is crippling the governments ability to make efficient and timely choices to respond to the needs of the people. People have become so polarized against each other that government has pretty much ground to a halt.
- Use of this thing called FUD needs to go away. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt is a tool that some people use to try and manipulate others. This seems to be exploited more by the right these days. Although the left is manipulating it pretty strongly when it comes to global warming and greenhouse emissions. Leaders need to focus on peace first. When I say focus on peace, I mean peace within themselves. External peace comes once everyone is peaceful internally. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you a big gun.
- A politician's chief quality must be that of diplomacy. If a politician shows in any way that he isn't a diplomat and he doesn't seem to have the ability to learn to be a diplomat, then he should not be elected to any office. Diplomacy is important because it enables the politician to keep an open mind, hear the issues and attempt to bridge divides. Instead of reacting, a diplomat responds and by his very actions can avert strife.
- We must change the "game" aspect of politics. A lot of people (most three year olds I know for sure) see life as a big game which is one by getting the most stuff. People define "stuff" as money, objects, sexual encounters, children, power, perceived control, awards, love, romance, etc. etc. etc. Politicians generally are after power or money and often both. It becomes a game to see how much power they can get or how much they can get away with before being caught. I'd like to see the rules change so the game becomes, "who can be the best politician ever?" And best gets to be defined as the most efficient.
Benefits of these ideas:
- Giving politicians the freedom to be themselves will allow them to be more concerned with their job than they are their public image. Why do politician's lie? Because they fear being outside the parameters of a politician we have created for them. Honestly, we set them up to fail. No one can be that "good." Do you see how its a self fulfilling prophesy? We set parameters for politicians which are impossible to meet. At some point they screw up and in order to continue being who they want to be, they have to lie. They may have to cover it up. They become the criminals our list intends to prevent from being in office.
- Giving the politicians the ability to make mistakes and learn from them will grow better politicians. Over time they will enable a new generation of folks who learned from the previous generation, making the political landscape mature (even perhaps beyond the age of three and a half).
- I think the forefather understood that people really don't know what's best for them. I think a three year old doesn't know what's best for her, so its my responsibility as someone a tad older than three and a half to insure that she doesn't hurt herself too badly. I want her to learn and grow, but not let her accidentally destroy herself. Likewise, a politician needs to be mature enough to allow the people to grow but at the same time not so loose that the people can hurt themselves or others due to immaturity.
- Realistically I don't see how we can separate business from our government. I hate to present an idea without any clear way of implementing it, but in this case I have to. Our near Imperialist government is so badly tainted by the money and power interests of a few of its citizens that the only way to fix the problem may be to have a revolution.
- Right wing and left wing politics are special ideologies which have absolutely no place in reality. Neither can function if fully implemented. Left wing politics will crush itself under the weight of the overhead of government. (giving people something for nothing causes inefficiency and you can't tax the productive to feed the non-productive for long before everyone is non-productive) And right wing politics will crush itself under the weight of imposed beliefs, social structure and scaremongering (conservatives are afraid of change, afraid of being controlled and thus they tend to spread fear and attempt to control social structures). The benefit to balancing the right and left by choosing a middle path, one that allows for both principals to function in various parts of the government according to need, brings a certain Zen which will allow the government a much higher level of functionality.
- In this age and probably in all other ages of man, fear is the strongest motivational force. Fear or the roots of fear caused the holocaust, caused 9/11/2001, the retribution for 9/11, Robert Mugabe's current reign of terror against the very people he sought to free decades ago, and on and on and on. Fear truly is the enemy of a peace loving people. Worse than fear itself is some people's ability to manipulate fear in others to get them to behave more passively. We're just now learning that lesson. Amazingly, within the span of eight years we have learned that freedom is worth more than safety. Lets hope we can reverse the loss of freedom without a revolution.
- I can't say any more about diplomacy. If we had more diplomats in the governments of the world, we would never go to war and we'd be able to devote time and energy to solving the world's issues without feeling a need to kill each other in the process.
- By redefining the game we reward politicians for a healthy attitude and punish those for an unhealthy attitude.
The heart of the matter is simply that we need to stop caring about idealism and start living up to our own ideals. Do you see the difference? We fight physically and through business means to spread our idealism and yet continuously fail to live up to our own ideals. Many Christian's have "WWJD" on their shirts and yet look down their noses at other religions, other ethnic groups, and other countries never realizing that Jesus would never do that. We actually care more about our idealism than we do living up to our own ideals. I can't fault us though: its hard to live up to ideals. Especially the impossible ones that some of our culture promotes. Its much easier to run around bonking people on the head (metaphorically?) saying, "you don't believe the right things!" than it is to actually practice what you preach.
There's this old children's song that fascinates me: here's the version I heard from Disney:
Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest, scooping up the field mice and kissing them on the head.
Down came the good fairy and she said, "Little Bunny Foo Foo I don't want to see you scooping up the field mice and kissing them on the head. I'll give you three more chances and if you don't behave I'll turn you into a goon."
When I first heard this song I was perplexed. Why does the "good" fairy (GF) not want Little Bunny Foo Foo (LBFF) kissing the field mice on the head?
It turns out that Disney ... um ... "Disneyed" the lyrics. Originally LBFF was scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head.
I like the Disney version because it represents government to me. See if you can see my parallels.
The field mice are the people. LBFF is the Democratic party. Trying to be all nice and cuddly to the field mice, but generally just interfering enough to be annoying, waste time, and remove the efficiency of the field mice.
The "good" fairy is the republican party. She sees herself as "good" and yet all she does is prevent people from being themselves, trying to make LBFF conform to some ideal that LBFF can never conform to. You'll notice that the GF in this version of the story doesn't seem to really care about the field mice, she only cares about her ideals and forcing those on LBFF. LBFF does the same with the field mice. "Its nice to kiss the field mice on their heads", thinks LBFF, no matter what the field mice think.
GF alienates LBFF in the eyes of the people thus turning him to a "goon." Oh, and it works the other way around too. LBFF alienates GF and once they are estranged and no bridges exist a stalemate is reached and nothing ever gets done.
Oh wait, I think I stopped talking about the song. Oh well.
Remember, most importantly, the punch line of that song:
Hare today, Goon tomorrow.
"Bill Grogan's Goat" is a much better song.
Causes Brian McKee Supports
I support the cause of peace via peaceful means.