"Ah, politics -- and the price we the people pay for the illusion that we are in charge of our government. The politicians are in charge, folks -- the politicians -- and don't ever forget it . . . " Joe Copp, Private Investigator, Copp On Ice, by Don Pendleton, a novel published in 1991 by Donald I. Fine, Inc., Copyright 1991 by Don Pendleton.
This quote underscores a large part of my message to the American people concerning politics today. We have about zero control over politics or our lives now. What issues politicians don't control, the popular media do. Both groups sway us back and forth and up and down, like being on that oft-mentioned roller coaster.
During this past year, Americans have sat and watched one of the worst displays of political decision making in decades. We have duly cast our votes. Once the politicians are in office, we sit and watch in horror as they do their level best to ruin their careers and our futures. But so it goes each election cycle.
The question is, do we want it to continue this way? If we don't, what can we do to change it?
We need to start learning everything we can about our candidates. Knowing that they are Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, just isn't enough anymore. Just how conservative are they? Are they so dead set against raising a single tax, that they will throw the whole country under the bus to emphasize the point of no new taxes? What are their personal agendas or the agendas of their city, county or state? Are they capable of analytical thinking? Do they have common sense?
For instance, financial experts were invited to Congress before the 2012 Presidential election. These experts explained to what members actually attended, that if Congress did not raise the debt ceiling, thus causing default on our loans, it could mean worldwide financial disaster. Yet, hard line tea party candidates such as Michelle Bachman were stating they would never vote to raise the debt ceiling.
There is such a thing as principle, and it is sometimes a good thing, but when people's minds are set rigidly in concrete, not listening to valid warnings, disaster can result.
We also need to know what Congressmen are willing to sacrifice all their principles and their votes to get pork for their own neighborhoods. Several people, some spouting no new taxes, including one young, extremely Conservative Congressman, went behind closed doors and made private deals for their communities at a good deal of expense to taxpayers. Then they walked right back out and began spouting no new taxes. Talk about hypocrites.
The media could help more in exposing such deals. In fact, they could remind us right before election time, as some local papers and stations do. They could saturate the news with truths about all candidates without prejudicing voters toward or away from particular candidates.
Another thing our media could do is to quit picking our candidates for us and whooping up enthusiasm for one or more.
They could quit spotlighting young, green politicians who, though they chomp at the bit to run, are not yet seasoned enough to carry the responsibilities they seek. In fact, their own careers might be better served by waiting.
Sometimes political competition and reporting parallels mistakes of the entertainment industry. A young, upwardly mobile entertainer starts acting like a jerk to gain notoriety. Once the spotlight finds their position, it would almost take dynamite to get it off of them. One writer of a celebrity gossip column used to speak of a tart of the month club. They act out in a ridiculous manner. The media pounces. They act out again. Then the celebrity media gets stuck at ground zero and the rest of the world gets bored senseless with the rapidly repeating broken record.
You see, politics is too important to play games with in this manner. We need to avoid making instant stars of the young politicians before they have time to know something and to gain enough power to maintain control if they achieve their goals. Remember the movie, The Candidate? In the final scene the candidate is asking an empty room what he should do now. You reporters have the power to create political stars. Just be careful how you exercise it. This is our country, our very lives, you are playing with here.
Then, the rest of us need to vote as informed citizens. This is no longer Mom and Dad's world or for that matter their political parties. We have to get as much control over our own government as possible. Remember that knowledge is power.