Power and politics: fear and fiction

Of late, I’ve had a few conversations with politicians about what they’ve accomplished and what they can and can’t do. The reality is, for all the campaign promises, most of them feel totally hamstrung.

Even when their party is in charge, in every office, the complaint was a lack of vision and leadership from the people who’ve clawed their way to the supposed top (statehouse).

When talking to another office holder – besides serving in a position that amounts to a committee, you have to be able to get the second, third or even fifth vote to swing things around. Then there are also limits on what you can and can’t do, some of them going back to 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance.

Then there is also the problem that things have gotten so complex- that even those who’ve been in the system a long time, are totally baffled by things that have been enacted- like the dual tax system at Austin Landing– one for the little people who work at Kohl’s, Kroger and Five Guys- and ones who work at Teradata, Thompson Hine, Sogeti and Clark Schaffer and Hackett. At what point do you become a candidate for the income tax free status? Is it where you work, if you wear a tie, how much you make or how much you’ve donated to political campaigns?

This afternoon at 4 p.m. the Democratic Party is going to pick someone to stand in for Clayton Luckie in the OH-39th House district. The original candidate list included Fred Strahorn and Rhine McLin. Now, we hear McLin is out and Victor Harris is in, maybe. If it were between Strahorn and McLin I’d ask the question why should we send you back to the Statehouse? You served for years there- and school funding still is still operating unconstitutionally and we still are using rules from 1785 to run the State.

The reality is, it may not matter much whom we send, because what our politicians can actually do- doesn’t seem like much.

At least compared to Rwanda, according to a book I’m reading, we’re failing on leadership and action by a country mile. When I think of Rwanda, I think of a movie “Hotel Rwanda” and genocide. Apparently, since the election of a new president, Paul Kagame the country has skyrocketed out of poverty statistically, established relationships with Costco and Starbucks and now is wiring the country with fiber optic internet to be competitive. When was the last time we saw a politician do a turnaround like that in this country? Sidenote: I’ve been told for the last 4 years that fiber optic internet is “coming next year” to my house and office- uh-huh.

Maybe the fact that most Americans eligible to vote, don’t. They’ve lost faith in the system. All of our vaunted checks and balances seem to mean little anymore as they have been replaced by checks to campaigns. In a country that used to mock other nations for the cost of bribery to do business- we’ve become the biggest sellout to the highest bidder ever.

The new reality is that most of us aren’t voting for what we believe in, but out of fear of what the other guy might do.

Despite most vice presidents having minimal power once in office (Dick Cheney being a noted exception) the first thing I started seeing when Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his VP candidate yesterday were fear based messaging of what Ryan would do to our country.

If you read the newspapers and listen to the political pundits of the National Press- we seem stuck in an endless discussion of hot-button issues (like gun control, abortion, gay marriage and now national health insurance) or about how much money is being raised to run commercials that bend the truth and play on fears. If this is the pinnacle of human civilization we’re in trouble.

What do we need to do to really fix our country? An informed and educated electorate that’s living above the poverty level would and should be the first goal. When you are worried about keeping a roof over your head or food in your belly, you can’t be prepared to make good long-term decisions about anything. Removing fears from our population should be a primary focus of government, not the creation of new ones in order to wield power.

It’s time we start re-thinking our system, so we can vote for things and people that we trust and believe in, because what we’ve got now is lacking the vision and power to create the change that they secretly envy.

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3 Responses

  1. Rick Cartwright August 12, 2012 / 11:10 am
    David, I could not agree more. The probability for either party to get anything done is about 0, while the important work that needs attention is not getting done. Your point about the electorate is on the mark. It often feels hopeless. Instead of lifting those below the poverty level, we seem to have a great system for further suppressing, and even increasing the rolls of those ‘in the system’. 

    Sometimes it seems that creating fear is the key to winning an election. We want to argue about dogma, instead of debating the  serious issues, and as a people, we are willing to accept gridlock over real results. 

    Rick 

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. joe_momma August 13, 2012 / 8:04 am
    Paul Kagame is a dictator.  Increasing the size, scope, power and responsibilities of government is antithetical to ridding the system of cronyism.  It enables it.

    Brilliant or Bozo? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  3. djw August 14, 2012 / 9:24 am
    What do we need to do to really fix our country? An informed and educated electorate that’s living above the poverty level would and should be the first goal. When you are worried about keeping a roof over your head or food in your belly, you can’t be prepared to make good long-term decisions about anything. Removing fears from our population should be a primary focus of government, not the creation of new ones in order to wield power.

    I agree with this, but the importance of this goal dovetails nicely with the “fear based messaging” about Paul Ryan’s vision for our country, which would dramatically increase the number of people living below or near the poverty level. 

    Smackdown!. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

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