Monday, August 15, 2011


We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Us
Many have said that in a democracy people get the government they deserve. Maybe, but they do get the government they elect. Nonetheless, in polls Americans express overwhelmingly negative opinions of Congress. Why do people we elect routinely disappoint us? There is the undue influence on officeholders of corporations, special-interest groups, wealthy contributors, and their lobbyists, but the bigger problem can be found closer to home - in the mirror.

What do you see in the mirror? A well-informed voter with views based upon verified facts and logical reasoning who thinks compromise is essential in a representative democracy? Or a voter with rigid ideology who applies litmus tests, requires candidates to sign pledges, and considers politicians who compromise weak or traitorous? Do you see someone who actively seeks out and double-checks information from diverse sources regarding candidates and policy issues? Or someone who passively allows Fox News and pandering politicians to confirm their existing biases and inflame their emotions? If your mirror reflects more of the latter, perhaps representative democracy isn't your cup of tea.

As the Congressional debt-ceiling debate proved, public policy elevated to uncompromising dogma leads to destructive legislative gridlock, dysfunctional government, and economic turmoil. Nevertheless, most members of Congress are doing exactly what we elected them to do. If you don't like the result, look in the mirror. As comic strip character Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

submit to reddit Share on Tumblr

No comments:

Post a Comment