I was going to share this story on Reader (from Newsweek re: Palin being in way over her head), but the comment area is only so large.
The public wants a hard drinking, uneducated, lowbrow commander-in-chief. Important qualifications in the past 8 years alone have been being likeable and not enjoying anything too foreign sounding, like arugula. It just doesn’t make sense. Consider Bob. He’s lazy, isn’t too bright, and only repeats what his friends tell him to. But he is a fan of your favorite sports team, which scores a few points. Would you want to work with Bob? Would you hire Bob? Hopefully not, but if you get enough people together, they would put Bob in charge of the country.
But it isn’t just a problem with the electorate. The goal of a politician is to be elected, which is achieved by satisfying the desires of the largest proportion of your constituents in the very short-term. Successful politicians continue on, perhaps moving up the ladder to bigger and better positions, mentoring others along the way. It seems reasonable that success would depend upon things like staff loyalty and earmarks. Natural selection of memes takes care of the rest, with the result being incompetence, mismanagement, and corruption.
Rather than figuring out the most efficient use of our resources in the long term, just cut taxes and borrow money to get elected right now, because you’ll be onto something bigger and better by the time it comes around. In a business like health insurance where the whole point is to bring together a group to share risk, keep it small with lots of overhead and people in suits rather than increasing the pool to include the whole country because that would be socialism. It’s easy to find some justification for a decision and then brush over the counter arguments. I think that these problems (which only scratch the surface) are inherent to full-time politicians of any affiliation, but are most obvious with right-wing, fear- and war-mongering representatives who appeal to the worst in people.
Don’t get me wrong. I think that there are tons of bright, productive people here. However, the people that we elect have their own interests to look after and the people doing the voting care about very strange things. It’s a chicken and egg problem, but short of moving to an island, a start is giving lasting support to thoughtful, intelligent politicians who have a deep knowledge of the issues.
One last thing about the financial crisis. You can only spend more than you produce for so long, and in the best case it will turn out like Sweden, and more likely it’s going to get ugly for a decade or more like Japan. But an investment at (hopefully) the bottom of the market makes a lot more sense than a hand out.
Anyways, I just wanted to get that off my chest to feel less of a need to share Reader items that highlight these things.