Thursday, January 21, 2010

If It Walks Like A Duck...

I have come to the conclusion that I am not particularly fond of politicians. Well, let’s put it this way, I don’t trust them and I don’t have much faith in them. For the most part many of them do an adequate job, and I suppose the best I could give any of them for their job performance would be a C or a C-. Occasionally there is one who deserves perhaps a C+ or a B, but never an A. No politician in my known memory has ever deserved an A. Perhaps the American Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- in hindsight -- have earned A ratings, but if they were alive today, on close scrutiny would they have earned an A? It would be interesting to find out.

When we are hiring political officials, we go through a lengthy process of interviewing these folks, much in the same way as we would read through résumés, set up interviews, and interview the candidates for a job. And then once we have gone through the interview process, we vet the applicants, we check their references and we hire the individual whom we think is the best for the job. And as with anyone we hire to do a job for us, we expect honesty and transparency during the interview and hiring process. Once they are in the job, we require them to perform to our expectations. Isn’t that supposed to be how it works? What you see is what you get?

So why does it appear that so many elected officials fall short of our expectations. Do we expect too much or too little? What is our option if a candidate lies or misrepresents himself? Why, all of a sudden, do we elevate these folks to a position higher, and accept all their nonsense? We seem to forget the main principle governing people in elected offices -- we are their bosses. We hire them to do a job for us, and we entrust them with our money to do it. It's all ours -- it belongs to us. We hire them to do the job and we pay their salaries, expenses, operating budgets -- everything. It's our money, and they are our employees, and we are their employers -- their bosses. Their fate is in our hands, but somehow we have the misguided idea that it's the other way around. It's not.

I have been reading on so many blogs lately that folks are dissatisfied with their elected officials -- on muncipal, provincial, state and federal levels. Promises have been made that have not been kept, money is misspent, folks have conducted themselves in a manner unbecoming to their elected office -- the Premier of our province was arrested for drunk driving while on vacation in Hawaii, for goodness sake. If people are not happy with their elected officials, they can fire them. Don't re-elect them for another term in office. We are under no obligation to keep inept or corrupt employees. If they're not living up to our expectations, we can boot them out. We don't need to make excuses for them, and we don't need to blame other people. I love the Mafia Sicilian expression "A fish stinks from the head". Whether it's an employee or an elected official, there is always that "ah-ha" moment when we know they are just not going to work out, no matter what stories they told us during the interview. Don't be bamboozled -- get rid of them.



The Bug said...


Avril Fleur said...

The late Tommy Douglas is the only one I can think of in Canada who would get an A+!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Well spoken. Our country suffers from apathy. They will complain, but when it comes right down to it they won't do anything about it..... and it takes a majority to accomplish anything in our political world. Makes you reconsider your discontent and whether it is worth the effort to really do anything about it.....

Linda S. Socha said...

Absolutely well said!

houndstooth said...

So very true!

RiverPoet said...

Ok, how did you get 721 followers and not be a bit of a politician yourself? ;-)

Peace - D

Cloudia said...

Get rid of them!

Aloha, Jo

Comfort Spiral

Mean Mama said...

I feel just as disalusioned as you do right now Jo. It seems like no matter where you live, all politicans are generally the same. If there were less money involved, if they were paid a livable wage like the rest of us, I bet we would get more honest people who would work harder.

Mean Mama said...

sorry about my spelling mistakes. SOOOOtired.

A human kind of human said...

I wish it was that easy over here. In SA we vote for a party and once they are in power, they appoint who they want.

Firefly said...

The problem here in SA is that the people vote for the ANC because they fought the freedom battle. Then they get very unhappy if the elected officials don't do what they should and just line their own problems. When the elections come up they all say they will vote for somebody else, but on the day they just believe the empty promises again and vote for the ANC again. So the majority of the voters in this country bring it on themselves.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

It distresses me that politicians are not obliged to keep their campaign promises, so what is the point? The whole system is a cynical rip-off.

Brenda said...

While I have some sympathy for anyone who has a job in the public eye, surely they know that everything they do and say is going to be found out. I wish they would just tell the truth right off the bat. My biggest pet peeve.. is that it is almost impossible to find all the loop holes and dirty deals made under the table. All the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine". I think some politicians start off on the right foot but the old ego gets in the way.

Russell said...

Abraham Lincoln was mocked by many of his fellow politicans as being totally incompetent and not qualified to be President.

Jefferson considered himself superior and was despised by Adams (later they became close friends). Washington alleged gambled too much and on and on.

I suppose today our politicans are as good - or bad - as they ever were. Of course the concept of investigative journalism has exposed them for being as human as the rest of us.

Interesting thoughts and good post.

Bagman and Butler said...

Unfortunately, it goes with the position. The primary pre-requisite for any politician is popularity. Even if a politician had a good heart and mind going into the process, in order to stay in the process he or she must remain popular above all. Therefore, politicians must always strive for mediocrity.

the walking man said...

Easier said than done. In order to dethrone a politician someone has to organize a campaign and be political themselves. Gather a bloc of voters strong enough to prevail and then find someone else more trust worthy. And it seems that the best among us are too smart to actually be a politician because of the requisite perfidy.

white crow said...

that is why i myself wanna be the prez of my country. too much compalining, have to solve problems myself.
(p.s. vote for me) :P

TC said...

Now shall we talk about lawyers?

Nezzy said...

Preach it sister! This Ozarks farm chick agrees our whole political system need a good barn cleanin'.

As we say here in the hill and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa, ya'll have a wonderfully blessed day!!!

Katy said...

Well said Jo, well said.

PhilipH said...

One would need to be a sadist or a sophist or a saint to want to be a politician.

Most are probably sadists, imo. They love backstabbing colleagues.

Winston Churchill once said:

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." (from a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)

I wonder if Obama feels the same today now that his health reform plans look very fragile?

Maggie May said...

That is very true.
I personally have lost trust in all our politicians. Who to vote for next time is anyone's guess. Of course I live in England UK.

Nuts in May

Nezzy said...

I just wanted to thank you for your visit and sweet comment.

In the words of old Granny Clampett, "ya'll come back now, ya hear!!!"

God bless!

Amy said...

Jo, Such a thought provoking post. I wonder why incumbents always have the edge (or nearly always!). One reason may be that the electorate is lazy and voters don't take the time to listen. There was a time when politicians in this country were not "professional" - that is, they had normal jobs and salaries or at least alternative sources of income during their term of service. I think a 40 year career (or even 20 to 25) in politics should be enough - especially if they serve honestly putting their country's best interest before their own.

What did you think about the MA "tsunami" on Tuesday?

JeannetteLS said...

Here, in the states, it isn't enough to vote people out... we are not drawing people of the kind of "wanting to serve" mentality into government. The Supreme Court here just made a ruling that will make it even easier for corporations to spend all the money they want to support a candidate. Until money is not linked to getting people into office, we shall not be drawing people with whom we'll be satisfied. Paying smaller salaries will not draw different public servants--they will have to be financed by special interests, unfortunately. Perhaps it is different there. I have become increasingly disheartened, not less so. I'm afraid cynicism has set in. And I keep voting, keep hoping, yet things get worse...

Land of shimp said...

Hey Jo, I think a big part of the problem many countries are experiencing is that we can't figure out where to draw the line in what is actually germane to the matter at hand.

In other words, not only do we extensively interview potential candidates, we extensively pry into things that are arguably completely unrelated to how fit for office a person is. This is particularly true in the United States. We don't want to simply know about a person's policies and political actions, for whatever asinine reason, we think we have a right know about their youthful indiscretions. Their personal relationships. Their children.

This highly intrusive process has really cut the field down, not simply because hardly anyone could pass the microscope up-the-butt-of-an-entire-life, very few good people would wish to subject themselves and their families to such people.

Case in point, whatever anyone may or many not think of Colin Powell, a huge determining factor in whether or not he would run for the Presidency was that he didn't wish to subject his family to such scrutiny.

This ridiculous, "Did you ever smoke pot? Sleep with someone you shouldn't? Have a glass of scotch when stressed? Are your kids sexually active? Hey, your wife has a drinking problem, what does that say about you?" process has narrowed our field of potential candidates down to power-hungry, grasping, callous people in many respects. What sort of man or woman would wish to allow such an invasion on their loved ones? Generally not the good ones.

Michael Dukakis long ago lost an election, and one of the reasons? His wife had a problem with substance abuse. He also was overheard telling her that *GASP* he was looking forward to having sex with her that night, when he had NO IDEA he was mic'd.

So as we bemoan our fate about the dregs we end up with, we should consider why that is, and the hell we put people through in our long interview process. We need to decide, quite firmly, what the hell is our business, and stick to that.

If we won't? Then we are frankly getting exactly the caliber of person we richly deserve. This is our process, we should make the rules.

As for transparency, well, see above, but also, Obama tried that with the Townhall meetings regarding health care. What a train wreck that was. People screaming hysterically about putting grandmas down like dogs, and screeching about birth certificates.

If we want transparency, we have to not act like people on the verge of a nervous breakdown, immune to facts, and complete strangers to sense, reason, and any semblance of sanity.

Sorry for the rant, Jo. I hope you know it isn't directed at you, because it truly is not.

It's incredibly easy to say (and pardon me, I'm about to swear) "Why do we keep ending up with such complete shits in office?"

It's not just them. We are playing a big role in that. Decent people, good people, people who truly love their families and spouses are very unlikely to sign on for the pure hell we put our candidates through here in the states...and it goes on for YEARS before there is even an election.

Our process is too long, by at least half. We are far too intrusive in our "right to know" and we are ending up with opportunists, and slime balls so frequently because our very process weeds out people of integrity long before they ever consider elected office.

That's my 20.02 :-)

Jo said...

The Bug, yes!

Avril, oh, yes, Tommy Douglas deserves an A+, definitely!

Kathy, it is always worth the effort, believe me.

Linda, thank you. :-)

Houndstooth, thank you. :-)

Doris, *heh* Just lucky, I guess. :-)

Cloudia, hear, hear...!

Mean Mama, yes and I think some of them like being celebrities.

Anna, I know. I have watched what is going on in SA.

Firefly, you folks have an ongoing history of political problems there, and I wish things would get better for you.

Susan, oh, yes, the campaign promises. You guys have heard them all, haven't you?

Brenda, if we had any idea of the backroom dealings, we wouldn't vote for anyone!

Russell, yes, it used to be that their "secrets" were kept secret, but that is no longer possible.

Bagman, oh, yes the popularity factor. That's where the promises come in, isn't it?

Mark, yes, and folks are too trusting, aren't they? They get bamboozled every time.

White Crow, I'll vote for you if you'll vote for me. :-)

TC, lawyers? *heh*

Jo said...

Nezzy, I like that word - barn cleanin'. :-)

Katy, thanks. :-)

Phillip, I think Obama is realizing he bit of more than he can chew!

Maggie May, I think politicians are the same anywhere.

Amy, I think the MA tsunami was a huge wakeup call to your President, who made promises, you folks elected him on those promises, and he did not keep them. It's very sad.

Jeanette, I read that about the corporations being able to spend as much as they want in order to support a candidate. What is that all about? It seems very unfair.

Alane, oh yes, I think people have become too intrusive for sure. But what I was referring to is the campaign promises that these candidates make (change?) and then don't live up to their promises. We have the same thing here in Canada too. It's very frustrating.

Land of shimp said...

It is very frustrating, Jo. But one thing feeds the other. If our process makes it nigh on impossible for true people of integrity to achieve elected office, it is little wonder we are stuck with liars, and vagabonds, the occasional inept or insincere schmuck, too.

TomCat said...

Politicians, to be successful, need two things. Lots of corporate money and a Doctorate in Bullshitology.

Mia said...

Politicians say whatever they think will get them in office. Sometimes just using the word change a lot is enough.

Once they're in office they realise the reality of their situation. It's much easier to say you're going to save the world than it is to actually get everybody to agree with you on how to save the world.

Some countries understand that the people have the power. Italy's government changes hands practically every week. In some countries the people don't hold the power. Most people vote in China but they don't have options.

Then there is America. They can speak out with their vote but most of them don't. Their voter turnout is usually around 50%. I don't know how many Americans I've talked to who say they never bother to vote since it never turns out their way. Talk about self-defeating. But they always have an opinion about the people they never bothered to vote for or against. And the few who vote almost always vote for the incumbent.

Most people in the world could fire their leaders. But they'd have to stop whining about it and actually do something. It's much easier to just watch TV.

persiflage said...

It is very depressing to read so many comments denigrating politicians. So negative, so critical, yet models, pop stars, sporting heroes can behave very badly, become immensely rich and yet receive immense adulation.
What do people want - dictatorships, monarchies? Get real, and sort out some values, instead of all this negative whinging and carping.
In my country the political system is open, generally honest, it is a democracy, and we have compulsory voting.
I worked for the national parliament for 30 years and my experience was that the politicians - whether I approved of their policies or not - were honest, worked very hard, and did their best. They were not perfect - who is? and acted politically - but so do all groups, sports, industry, business, interest groups, etc. Do people really believe that Tiger Woods, or film stars or models should get paid so immensely more than the Presidfent of USA?
Look at how your media treats politics? Does the media concentrate on personalities, and party unity or disunity? What coverage of policy and legislation is there. I know that there is minimal coverage here, whereas years ago people could know what the policies were and what legislation was being enacted.
How many people who whinge about politicians really think these things through, or take the trouble to find out more about political facts, policies and events?

Paula Slade said...

Gosh Jo, I think we are going to be without a government after we fire all those politicians. I totally agree with you! Say no at the polls!