by Brad Nelson
A friend recently remarked to me that he thought that it was very urgent that people wake up and realize that politicians are usually cheap and easy when it comes to making promises. He told me that people especially need to be aware of the “something for nothing” promises that politicians typically make. He reminded me of how so much of a politician’s spiel is little more than a con job and that if you string enough of these cons together, it turns us all into little better than slaves.
Right. I’m onboard with that. That seems obvious enough to me. But it wasn’t always. When I was in my early twenties, I was much less skeptical toward politics and politicians and much more likely to drink someone else’s feel-good kool-aid and swallow down their Big Promises without much thought. If it sounded good then I guess I figured that it was good. In other words, I was naïve, gullible, and perhaps more than a little stupid. But we don’t come out of the womb knowing all that we need to know in order to get by. We learn over time – or should.
And learning is absolutely vital to a self-governing people. If you’re satisfied with Mussolini or some other all-powerful leader running your life, then just shut up and swallow the kool-aid. Do your civic duty by nodding your head to whatever popular notion is washing through the culture at the time. But if you see a self-governing people as being anchored in something deeper than fad and fancy, then you must judge the facts, not the spin. You must look at the political profession with at least as much discernment and savvy as you would someone trying to sell you a car…and probably a great deal more because a car salesman can’t increase your taxes or write laws.
If one is looking, listening, and assessing the facts in any kind of reasonably objective way, one will come to realize that politics is indeed the second oldest profession, and often resembles the first, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan. But what is striking to me as that there are people (and many of them) in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and even older, who still have the mindset that I did when I was a rather gullible 20-year-old ready to believe anything. There’s little doubt I would have voted for an easy-pleasy undefined and ill-defined “hope and change” agenda 30 years ago. But now? Not a chance. I know the profession of politics too well. Time and tide have shown me how unlikely it is to get something for nothing, and how dangerous it can be to fall for charismatic leaders who aren’t specific about what they want to change or do.
I was talking to someone recently who reminded me of how much we still need to prepare and condition ourselves in order to be able to govern ourselves effectively. This person was far too trusting of politicians and was of the opinion that trust, not skepticism, should be the default mindset. She was actually a little bit insulted that I assumed politicians were trying to bamboozle me unless proven otherwise. In my opinion, this is a fatal naiveté.
From this and other conversations, I realized that our rose-tinted glasses needed a good washing. But that does not mean that we need to hold a constant attitude of cynicism. Being careful, whether of politicians or while crossing the street, does not mean having a constant attitude of crustiness or belligerence. But we had better have a very healthy skepticism in regards to the claims of politicians or any so-called experts. This lack of skepticism almost unleashed a torrent of horrible new jobs- and economy-killing taxes due to the global warming scam, for instance. And that scam is not yet dead in the public’s mind, or in the government’s.
Politicians, generally speaking, tell you what you’d like to hear, and they are often very good at it. They are analogous to the man-on-the-prowl in some seedy bar who promises the lady that, yes, he will respect her in the morning and “cares” about her. And even if a politician does, by a stroke of sheer luck or the grace of Almighty God, have your interests at heart, there is still no guarantee that these student-body-presidents-who-never-grew-up know what in the hell they are doing. Many of these attention-seeking types have never had a real job in their lives and couldn’t help you even if they wanted to. They may be similar to Obama who hasn’t a clue, despite his lofty rhetoric and meteoric promises, as to how an economy actually works.
In talking to that one person, I got the impression that she thought that it was a bad thing to think ill of others. And while that might be a fine thing in regards to the new neighbor who just moved in next door, it’s totally inappropriate regarding the political profession. We simply have to be savvier about these things than most people are now. It’s a mystery why the people wouldn’t think twice about counting the change handed back to them by a cashier will gladly swallow down even the most outrageous and obsequious pie-in-the-sky promises of politicians. This must change or nothing is going to look good in the morning for any of us.