Monday, September 26, 2011

Stability and Statues

Politicians are necessary - at least they have existed throughout human history, and have been a part of human progress.  A politician has to take 100's, 1000's, even millions of people, each with different interests and characteristics, and convince them to pursue a common goal, with the politician in charge.  Of course this can be done with violence and coercion, but it is best achieved with persuasion.  Democracy, where the people believe that they originally envisioned the common goal, and are merely handing the management of it to the politician, is the most effective system in that the people are entirely behind the idea and the politician.
On the other hand, following Penn Jillette's piece in the Wall Street Journal of Sept. 10, 2011, titled Who's the Real Illusionist?... I hope this is not too cynical.  Politicians are essentially full time magicians on the public stage.  they have to make a majority of "subjects" believe in, like, and vote for them.  That task is fairly easy in a small tribal group, but a polyglot mix of hundreds of millions of people is harder to crack, even with mass media.  And, note the "politicians" includes high level bureaucrats, union leaders, college presidents, non profit leaders, upper military officers, and any number of minor, over-credentialed, ambitious wannabee organizers.  The game appears to be 3 card monty, and the trick to master is the "lift shuffle", where the result seems random but is actually controlled.  The incentive for the politician to work hard to create the illusion is personal power (and resultant wealth).  The incentive for the public to believe the politician's illusion is stability, or the suppression of uncertainty.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.  -from the Declaration of Independence
Bottom line... in a "free-market" political system (non coercive, multi-party, free-speech) the politician is a necessary "broker", in that he/she listens to voters and tries to find a middle ground amenable to the majority.  Yes, many pols in "safe" districts will be mindlessly partisan (there being no downside), but most pols live in fairly balanced districts (district voter registration doesn't tend to run higher than 60% for the majority party, and only 60-80% of eligible voters tend to be registered).  So when people say "all politicians are corrupt", or "they don't care what I think", they are saying what I used to think; but I was and they are wrong.  Corrupt and unresponsive pols need to be voted out of office, but the rest are at least necessary to a stable society, and the best are worthy of being put on a pedestal (after they are dead, of course).

No comments:

Post a Comment