“Be not wise in thine own eyes:”
(“…And lean not unto thine own understanding.”)
These two quotes from The Proverbs should guide us in every interpersonal transaction we undertake each day. Most humans are quite certain that what they pass along verbally via the Internet is the unvarnished truth and what they have come to believe about something contains the indisputable facts.
Consequently, it is not easy for them to be humble and admit that what they know about something maybe incorrect, obsolete, inaccurate, exaggerated, and just plain wrong. The human source of any bit of news can be mistaken, misled, misquoted, misinformed, and misinterpreted. Even a supposedly reliable informer may be manipulative, insincere, dishonest, and deliberately deceptive.
When did humility, civility, and tranquility abandon the democratic electioneering process? Already, aggressive mud-slinging TV ads are being broadcast in California which endeavors to smear the candidate of the opposition party. Isn’t there a better method for promoting a candidate? Wouldn’t an honest presentation of a candidate’s accomplishments be more likely to impress voters positively instead of spending PAC donations to buy negative ads recounting the possible weaknesses and suspect flaws of the other party’s candidate?
The present polarized state of politics in our democracy is quite disturbing to informed citizens. A campaign of attack ads doesn’t do much to convince intelligent independents to vote for the attacking candidate who himself or herself may lack the qualifications and the “hands-on” experience that the official position requires. Low voter turnout may prove that I’m right, but the well-paid campaign managers obviously disagree with the above analysis of this unpaid advisor. Their philosophy will ultimately undermine the trust and civility that are essential to the success of our democratic governments struggling mightily to please a variety of dissatisfied voters.
When all is said and done, has the best candidate actually been identified by the media, or the least incompetent? Can voters feel enthusiastic about going to the polls to choose between two soiled candidates defiled by negative campaign ads? Is image everything as the hucksters say? Or just the key to the executive backroom where the deals are made and full loaves are halved to please the most important power brokers?
A manipulated populace does not constitute a discerning electorate. The rhetorical expediency of using edited sound bites that superficially address complex social and financial problems may fool many biased voters. However, even fools eventually find out that they have been deluded by deceptive candidates who don’t have the necessary commitment and the negotiating skills to fulfill their promises. Fortunately, there is always the threat of the succeeding election to hound an insecure incumbent. In the meantime, valuable time and money is wasted when insincere candidates are elected and forced to toe the party line.
What did our presidents know about being prepared for Hurricane Katrina and the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Why did two former presidents tolerate the circumstances permitting the “exuberant speculation” that led to the two stock market crashes this new century? Is there any candidate with a sensible solution to the illegal immigrant stand-off, the out of control state and federal deficits, the social consequences of the sale of illegal drugs on the streets of our country, the unending threats of terrorism, and the high level of unemployment resulting from “exporting” so many jobs?
Let the candidates address in detail their proposals to take immediate action (even if their stump speeches put their cheering party supporters to sleep!) Let these honest candidates tell us where the money would come from to enhance entitlements and continue the military ventures overseas. Let them discuss openly how they would deal with the ranting tyrants of Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran. Let them explain what they would do about global warming, the pirates in Somalia, the Muslim jihad, and the violent, disruptive gangs in our cities.
Maybe our party leaders are right. Maybe the common man and woman are too occupied to listen to extensive arguments about unsolvable dilemmas. And who can guess what the next urgent issue might be: some extreme act of Mother Nature, some unintended consequence of a poorly enforced law that might discriminate against suspects involved with illegal activities, some new epidemic, some ambitious war lord attacking our friends or allies overseas, or some local uprising spear-headed by an unhappy minority that’s well armed?
No, diligent voters want to know more about poor hair days, how many yachts or fancy homes some candidate owns, how many times someone failed to vote, and who are the close friends likely to influence the candidate’s future responses and decisions. Integrity, honesty, and sincerity cannot be proven easily. Besides, any accountant worth his fees will tell you that the past can’t be used to predict the future.
Voting is just another gamble a person undertakes in life which more often than not increases the cost of government so that taxes ultimately will have be increased. As I have written before, if our forefathers loathed “taxation without representation,” they should visit the 21st century to see what taxation with representation offers each financially challenged citizen. The constitution of a democratic republic must be updated from time to time so that the virtuous, hard-working citizens are treated fairly, and the unscrupulous scallywags can’t be elected to office.
Still, the basic political question remains unanswered:
If we can’t be wise in our very own eyes,
Should we just compromise with the sly gadflies?
They tell us big lies and often patronize
The many unwise whom they love to hypnotize.
Smart people advertise with a phony disguise
All those gals and guys who so epitomize
The flashy fireflies who won’t harmonize
And only compromise to avoid their demise.
When an incumbent dies, his family cries,
His opponent sighs, and the media shout “Surprise!”
FYI: The Front page of the San Francisco Chronicle on July 24th had an article with the following headline: “Most California House members have little to fear.”
“According to party insiders and independent analysts…only two of the state’s 53 (incumbent) House members…face credible threats to their re-election bids.”
The article went on to report: “An analysis of the past 10 congressional elections by the California News Service, a journalism project of the University of California, reveals that California incumbents have won 97 percent of their races…During the same 20 year period, incumbents in Congress won roughly 95 percent of their races.”
If you have seen a detailed map of the Gerrymandered electoral districts of California, you would understand immediately how difficult it is to unseat a Congressional Representative.