Saturday, August 20, 2011

Politicians Are A Necessary Evil

"Most Politicians are like Halloween decorations.  It's OK to display them in public for a few days once a year, but you don't want to leave them out too long ... they scare the children."

If it seem like I spend a lot of time castigating politicians on both sides of the aisle ... it's because I do.  Don't get me wrong, most of them are probably pretty decent people outside of their political responsibilities (but there are some that are simply and seriously wrong in ways that I don't have time to get into in this post).  What they have CHOSEN to do however, cannot help but call their intelligence, common sense, and ulterior motives into question.  Who after all would choose to sit through school board or city council meetings that are only slightly less entertaining than being trapped in an elevator for hours at a time with a talkative hypochondriac, a flatulent idiot, and a self-righteous and proselytizing bigot without a damn good reason?  

Like many, I've heard the pronouncements of "the call to public service", and I believe for a few that it's actually true; but as it relates to far more of those seeking office, I have more than a few doubts.  In fact, I'm far more willing to believe the outlandish claims of AXE ads telling me that if I spray some cheap crap on myself, the chicks will really dig me than these concocted self-serving rationalizations. (Though that AXE thing really does work ...  No, really!)  Seeking public office, regardless of the misleading reasons handed out like fortune cookies by some office-seekers, is for a great many of these people a desire to take up the mantle of power.

Perhaps the exercise of such power is the prize they believe is their due for the price they pay by humbling themselves in begging for campaign funds, showing up at public events that they don't want to go to (and normally wouldn't otherwise), and talking to a bunch of 'just plain folks' who want them to make the neighbors dog stop barking in the middle of the night.  This 'Let's Make a Deal' trade should not and does not however, grant them a level of self-importance beyond their previous station; nor does election provide them as a 'servant of the people' with membership in some elite society.

Worse still however, is that somehow being elected often seems to mistakenly confer upon them the belief that they can solve the world's ills if they can just pass one more law.  Many times it doesn't even matter what the laws long-term consequences (good or bad) might be, as long as such a law has the elected official's name attached to it.  It seems as if somehow the thrill of competing and winning in the game of politics has had the side effect of turning these once normal people into media addicts, jonesing for the microphone and the camera, desperate for the fix of a broadcast soundbite.

Politicians can in fact, solve little if anything by passing another bit of legislation (though they can create some rather costly and unsuccessful attempts to do so).  If the world could have had its ills resolved by the passing of a law, don't you think someone in the long history of politics and politicians would have come up with it by now. "Passing laws is like passing gas.  It normally serves no one but those passing it, is an impolite thing to do at best (especially in public), and often results in a horrible and lingering odor."

Those we elect to office should recognize that they are only necessary as the chosen sacrifices made by a civilized society (well, kind of anyway) that recognizes that it's far too wrapped up in self-indulgence, complacency, and ignorance to govern itself.  We can respect the nature of the sacrifice that some make on our behalf, while retaining what now seems an all but necessary skepticism of the motives of the rest.  For their own and society's benefit (and much like small children), they should seek to be mostly seen and not heard.  Also like children, they should work hardest at staying out of mischief.  All of us should likewise keep in mind that where politicians are concerned, they serve us best who burden us least with their efforts.

And so perhaps we are left with a reluctant thanks to those who serve us in office at the same time that we must at all times be suspicious of their efforts and methods.  Like those responsible for picking up the trash, we should applaud their services to the common good without seeking to join them in what often becomes their rather distasteful efforts.  Like the actors that they many times are, we seem to ask little of them these days but that they entertain us.  Most (except the best) should remember however, that they are only necessary until the new crop of would-be zealots and power seekers makes its appearance at the next election. Ultimately, politicians (and government) are nothing more than a necessary evil that we must perpetrate upon ourselves in protection from the even greater evils that Man is capable of. 

(All quotes used in this post are from ... me.)


Roland Hansen said...


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