I keep hearing and reading about how dumb our politicians are. The dictionary defines dumb thusly, “lacking intelligence or good judgment; stupid; dull-witted”. There’s no politician that gets elected to office by “lacking intelligence or good judgment; being stupid; dull-witted”. So that leaves who? Voters! That’s who’s dumb; you and me.
Here’s why I think that we are dumb; we keep expecting this or that politician to single-handedly change the dysfunctional systems in Washington. Now that’s what I call dumb. If we truly want system change, we have to do three things: Get campaign finance reform, get term limits and get the special interest lobbyists out of town. Campaign finance reform would actually help to, but not completely, clear out the lobbyists. Term limits would remove career politicians before they could become too compromised by the system – and too concerned for their careers. Remove that and you remove another tool used by lobbyists.
Now I get to “really dumb”. We’re going to get these three changes by whom? The very same politicians who depend on them to keep themselves in office? Now that’s dumb. I just wrote it, which makes me super dumb. The facts are that there are very few human beings who won’t protect their own interests before protecting others. It happens when a soldier throws himself on a grenade. When a parent drowns in the process of saving a child. When a teacher spends her own time and money for the benefit of her pupils. But trying to find these kinds of noble acts in the midst of politics – that’s a real challenge.
So now that I’ve eliminated all the possibilities, what’s left? The only thing I can think of is we need to become smarter. Politicians depend on our dumbness. Otherwise, why would they spend seemingly limitless amounts of money on misleading campaign ads, ridiculous claims about their opposition’s programs, public relations spinmeisters, marketing consultants and other lower forms of life devoted to convincing us to vote against our own best interests?
Because they depend on us “lacking intelligence or good judgment; being stupid; being dull-witted” – see above. They depend on our inability to discern the facts through the fog produced by all of the above named professionals. No, I don’t believe politicians are dumb. I don’t believe their professional hirelings are dumb. I believe the average American voter has given up learning the facts in this confusing political world. It’s much easier to just let our emotions take over and make comments like, “politician are dumb”.
The facts are, that they are no dumb politicians in Washington. Their staffs aren’t dumb. Their families aren’t dumb. Their pets aren’t dumb. We’re dumb every time we let a talk show host from either side of the debate make up our minds. We are dumb when we let negative campaign ads convince us to vote for the other guy. We’re dumb when we let any kind of distorted opinion turn us against what might be best for us. We are “lacking in intelligence or good judgment ” when we let someone else form our opinions.
There’s a lot to learn and it’s sometimes very difficult to find out the true facts. But it can be done. Is it worth your time? I think so. If you don’t think so, check your mirror before you call someone else names. PS. I hope you’re not offended by the term, dumb. But I didn’t make it up. I hear it every time a politician’s name is mentioned – and I think that’s dumb.