"Career" Politicians

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bbucko, Aug 26, 2010.

  1. Bbucko

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    I'll be the first to admit that much of our electoral system is fractured (personally, I think "broken" sounds too much like irreparable to my ears), and that it comes from three sources:

    1) Endless, non-stop campaigning: the minute an election is won, it is the politician's best interest (in terms of job security) to begin planning his/her re-election. This constant posturing and the bottomless pit of "outrage" it generates bedevils both parties, and to the same degree, regardless of who holds the Congressional majority at any given time. Money features prominently in this point as well.

    2) Politics, at least in the US, have become so deeply polarized that the "squishy middle" has become demonized, and "moderation" is a sign of weakness, not strength. The problem here is that the sausage-making ugliness of crafting legislation requires compromise, which has a very negative connotation in today's Washington currently. In today's agenda-driven environment, overtalking (shouting down and an inability to listen) which too-often passes as "debate", incremental measures and respect of the concept of "loyal opposition" are seen as "capitulation" if not outright "betrayal"; IMO this makes the kind of compromise required to address real problems in a pragmatic way has become impossible.

    3) The process of candidate selection is fed through the Party System governed by (for lack of a better term) "elites", most of whom sit outside of both the local constituencies and the Capitol building though are still completely within the beltway and/or NYC. Sometimes they are partisan think-tanks, sometimes they are corporate/"special" interests, sometimes they are part of the highly influential media (themselves entirely polarized at one edge or the other). Candidates are vetted and groomed based on appearance, demographic appeal, the ease with which they can be manipulated and controlled by the "elite" kingmakers who make a political career possible: their ability to project polemical, cartoon-like paradigms of "ideology". Their actual opinions, personalities and authentic individualism count for much less than the holographic image of some paragon of the virtues and ideals of their sponsors that they are required to project.

    Conor Freidersdorf, perhaps the hardest-working man in the Blogosphere (he's everywhere, it seems), has been addressing this last issue (point #3 listed above) through his many and sundry outlets for months now. But he posted something today that really hits it home:
    For the record, CF is a moderate small-c conservative with strong Libertarian leanings; he also very bright, and is quite young (under 30). He has a wonderful skill at articulation of his POV without exaggeration and polemics; there's a thoughtfulness and reasoning behind his opinions that demand careful reflection and analysis. Even when I disagree with him on specifics (and I do, frequently), I appreciate the pragmatic and open curiosity that he brings to political commentary. I also appreciate the fact that he's truly independent and is as likely to criticize conservatives as often as progressives.

    I have some strong opinions about the concept of "career" politicians, but will wait to express them until I'm responding to the input made in this thread by the membership of LPSG.
     
  2. Pendlum

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    I have mixed feelings about career politicians. They are like bosses. Sometimes you get a really good boss, someone that deserves to be where he is and to go further. And it truly is good to have him in those positions. But then you have bad bosses. They belittle their workers, don't listen, but somehow they are so damn good at sucking up to corporate and their own bosses that they wont ever leave, and somehow move up.

    I will say I think it is too easy to fleece your way into a political career. Which over all for me makes the career politician bad. Because I don't trust this country to tell the difference between the good boss and the bad boss. We are a lazy corporate. All we do is phone the place once in a while, ask some questions and take them at face value. We're too easily smooth talked out of noticing discrepancies, though the internet makes it harder to do that now, a lot of people don't use the internet to it's full potential when it comes to politics, though it can be difficult to do. They butter us up, we're pals. We have a beer on occasion, shoot the breeze. All those employee complaints? They are just lazy workers complaining about their job, or something else that shifts the blame from the boss.
     
  3. Bbucko

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    Much as I like your analogy, Pendy, there's a key piece that's missing here: you don't get to choose your boss, but you do get to choose your elected Representative to Congress, your Senator and your President. Of course, your choice is just one of millions of equal choices, and it's the tabulation of all those choices that ultimately decides who'll be in office until the next election.

    One of my single greatest complaints is the penury of desirable candidates; it's been years since I've truly felt unambiguous enthusiasm for the person for whom I voted, who always seems to be the lesser of two evils. Though I could not never have brought myself to GW Bush, I was hardly enthusiastic for Al Gore, and even less so for John Kerry (though Teresa Heinz would have been a hoot as FLOTUS). Given a choice, I might well have voted McCain in 2000, though his disgraceful campaign (and absurd, unvetted pick for VP) made my vote in 2008 so much easier, despite Obama's stance opposing marriage equality.

    I know that the chances of ever voting for someone who truly embraces my values on any level higher than the municipal are slimmer than being hit by lightning :rolleyes:, and even then.

    Who really was the last President with whom the buck really stopped? Ford? Carter? Look what happened to them.

    I don't want to elect someone based on their telegenic presence any more than I want to elect anyone based on his/her dogmatic intractability to values over compromise and pragmatism. Populist nationalism makes my blood run cold (Palin) just as much as hypocrisy (Lieberman, Edwards, Gingrich, Vitter) or willful pandering (Biden, HR Clinton, Romney, Santorum). Corruption (Dodd, Delay, Waters, Rangel, Blago...the list is endless) is endemic to our system, so it seems :frown1:

    I'd be 100% behind term limits except for one thing: I don't want amateurs and n00bs running our government. Novelty does not equal competence. And as much as I despise lawyers (until I need one, natch :cool:), it just makes sense that people with legal backgrounds are the ones most qualified to write laws: color me crazy, I guess. And the more familiar s/he is with the process, the more likely s/he will be an effective legislator, IMO.

    So how do you get qualified and experienced legislators if you're constantly re-tilling the soil? Executives are different, because executive experience can come from so many different sources: governorships, mayoralties, corporate/private sector, etc. FWIW, I find the concept behind electing judges wrong on a fundamental level as well: justice is supposed to be blind, not subject to voter approval, and is based on precedent, not fads in public opinion.
     
  4. Pendlum

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    It isn't a perfect analogy, but I did call the voters 'lazy corporate', since politicians are supposed to be accountable to us, but they make decisions, not us.

    I can't say I've ever felt enthusiastic about any candidate, but this last election is the first presidential election I could participate in. I haven't paid attention to my local government very much, even though I should. But really getting into it is very toxic feeling at times. Plus I want to have a better grasp of my own political feelings, and diving into it doesn't help me. My thoughts on financial and social policies are very open to influence right now, but I don't trust the main stream media on either side to really help guide me, nor do I trust politicians. I remember, I took this quiz called the political compass, it is quite fun. It was a few years ago when I took, but at the time it put me at a slightly liberal libertarian. I'm thinking of trying it again to see if it has moved much. So I don't think there are many politicians who would fit that bill, except maybe Ron Paul. :tongue:

    I completely agree, that isn't the way to pick politicians. But the sad truth is that is how most people do it. I know people who vote straight republican, no questions asked, and vice versa. Being politically savvy is hard work, especially wading through all the shit. We are a lazy country.

    Term limits sound great, assuming you can get a solid stream of top crop people to replace the old, but that is a lot to ask for, too much in my opinion. So again, I agree, term limits wouldn't help. Though one advantage would definitely be things would probably get done (whether good or bad) more frequently. If you are on your last term, what have you really got to lose? But it would be very turbulent.
     
  5. D_Fiona_Farvel

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    One of my fave authors, Crane Brinton, wrote a great book about the process of revolution, which describes "dual sovereignty", or the perception of it, as one of the breaking points of a society. I think one of the ways to combat those kinds of ideological breaks is to institute reasonable term limits and create a system that encourages the participation of everyone and removes the notion of entitlement or exclusivity from the process.

    Which would, in a perfect world, demystify civic engagement and bring all, but especially the "least of these", to the table (in the manner Langston Hughes describes in I, Too, Sing America, ). The problem is, you then have the possiblity of dumbasses, the easily corruptible, those who cater to popular whims, and people otherwise unqualified taking positions of power, and where does that leave the nation? :shrug:

    While I do not believe one can be born or groomed for taking a power role, experience is invaluable, so with term limits, I would propose a body of elder statespersons(?) to continue to play a part in directing the country as the new politicians mature, but not with the attitude of right to do so.

    I agree, voters are lazy and, imo, none more so than those who blindly believe a political party represents their best interests and without further analysis vote the party line.

    Having said that, I also think our system encourages that behavior because we so clearly have a split along political lines. Most people want to feel as though they have group support and the power of "I'm not the only one who thinks ___", when presenting or defending their social and political opinions. Perhaps we need to reorient our perspectives and remind everyone that "we", as in "We the people", are not political parties, conservative/liberal, blue/red, but part of an overarching identity that demands "we" independently act in each other's best interest and find a common ground to achieve that end?
     
  6. D_Fiona_Farvel

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    Too true! At this point, though, I am Ok with not having my interests represented in government as I can work with any policy that is fair, well-reasoned, and falls within the framework of American-style constitutional democracy.

    It isn't perfect, but I do not think the country is ready to take part in what I believe to be an ideal social-political environment. *pouts* :)
     
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