The politicians we settle for

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

Current conventional wisdom goes something like this:

Our system is more partisan and mean than it has ever been.  Politicians don’t have any interest in leading, they base their decisions on poll numbers and focus group data and refuse to tell us the truth.  Things have never been this bad.  If only the parties would nominate some qualified candidates who would put the good of the nation ahead of themselves.  None of the jokers running are at all qualified to do anything.

Whine, whine, whine.  I may not agree with Secretary Clinton‘s recent comments about women but I sure share her opinion about this.  Let’s call it whiner fatigue.  I don’t know what I hate about it the most, the whining itself or the fact that it puts me in the scary position of wanting to defend people like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.  I think I disagree with everything Paul Ryan has said but when someone I know  said he was no more qualified than Sarah Palin, well, no, Virginia, I guess there isn’t a Santa Claus.

Mr. Pot, I’d like you to meet my good friend, Ms. Kettle.

I think one reason we love to hate politicians is because we love to hate ourselves.  I can think of no other explanation that makes sense.  The people in our government weren’t beamed there from outer space.  They weren’t born there.  We sent them there.  We want many things from our elected officials.  We want them to be both better than and the same as us.  I, personally, want them to be smarter than me.  Statements like, “all politicians do that” are bad for a number of reasons.  These statements let our politicians slide but more than that, they let us do the same.  Plus  by expecting so little of them, and ourselves, we set everyone up for failure.

I am tired of it.  I expect more of myself and I expect more from them, it’s just that simple.  You may be wondering how this will impact my presidential pick.  You know what?  That’s a bullshit question.   I do expect more from the person who will get my vote for president but even if I didn’t, my entire view of our system does not rest on one person or one office.  My vote has the least influence in the presidential election, where I don’t even vote for the person directly.  Where it can make a bigger difference is in local elections or for members of Congress.  Now, I have no real representation in Congress but I vote for my non-voting member and so should you.

Having said that, my opinion about Barack Obama is not the point.  In fact, in one draft of this I gave the reasons I think he deserves another four years but removed them because they detract from my point.

Bottom line:  Our electeds represent us in every way.  They are reflections of us in every way as well.  We need to own that and move on if we expect to change anything.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Seriously, things have never been this bad in the history of the world except of course when they were.  My career got its start during the Clinton administration.  You know, that rosy time when Democrats had everything they wanted and the economy grew so much that all over Washington people greeted each other with puppies and kisses.  Oh, wait, they didn’t.  (for the record, I wrote this about that time.)  Bill Clinton was concerned to not just be a bad president, he was evil.  He was accused of everything up to and including murder.  So was Hillary.  She offed Vince Foster donchaknow.  He was impeached.  Republicans alleged that as governor he ran drugs and guns into his state.  As president, the nefariousness just never ended.

So now, things are bad.  Congressional districts are becoming increasingly radical.  Members of Congress go on the record to say they will never use the word compromise, ever.  Congress used to stay in Washington over the weekends but now they go home.  We don’t even get our news from the same sources.  My side watches our news and your side watches yours.  Daniel Patrick Moynihan used to say you have a right to your own opinion but not your own facts but that may not be true any more because we literally cherry pick our facts.  Yet, whining about this is still whining.  It might feel good at the time but unless you’re going to get out there and do something to change the tenor of public discourse, shut up.

Bad people get sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote…

That used to be my outgoing voicemail.  I went on to give information about polling places and a number to register to vote.  We are an apathetic country and this is actually a sign that our system is working vs. not but that it doesn’t excuse not voting.  Not even a little bit.  And if you don’t vote and then come whine to me about government, the shit storm that comes your way is your own damn fault.

If you have made it this far, you might be wondering why I wrote this.  I get just as fed up and upset at the state of affairs in this country as anyone but as bad as our system can be, it still beats most of the other systems on the planet.