I do not care much for politics. But just because we find a subject distasteful does not mean that we should shut it out of our lives completely. My ignorance of politics is mostly deliberate as I feel that the time spent studying it would be put to better use elsewhere. I nevertheless concede that the question of who we choose to run our country is one that deserves our attention – in spite of the facility demonstrated by politicians for overestimating their ability to influence the course of the economy.
If I were called upon to summarise my dislike of politics, I would assert that politicians are far more concerned with the manipulation of information and people for their own ends than they are with improving the lives of their constituents. I see much greater merit in ideas for promoting and supporting continuous improvement in individuals than adding new layers of complexity to the tax system and operating central planning over the banking system.
When asking myself about the nature of politics, my instinctive response is that it is concerned with the acquisition, maintenance and application of power in the sphere of governing the state. We all know that power and corruption are frequent bedfellows. The desire to acquire power and the manner in which it is gained and used depend on the motives of the individual.
The power seeker can either have a goal of making the state a more just, productive, safe and fulfilling place for its citizens to inhabit – or they can pursue the attainment of personal wealth, social connections and prestige. These two objectives are incompatible with each other because the former requires a long term investment of time, effort and integrity while the latter involves a short term, superficial approach.
Rather than labelling politicians with over-simplistic party labels, perhaps we should assess them based on the extent to which they care about feathering their own nests rather than making the world a better place for us to live in. Politicians and bankers seem to adopt an unbalanced, one-sided stance in this respect, creating far more value for themselves than for others. The very people we need to be able to trust the most always seem to betray us.
We can generally determine what motivates people by observing how they behave. Many politicians routinely employ rhetoric with the purpose of enhancing their own image while discrediting their opponents. Mud slinging is a hallmark of their profession.
How do you feel about placing the important business of running the country in the hands of people who are given to arrogance and self-aggrandisement? Great store is placed (especially by the media) on the speeches made by political leaders. But their orations invariably seek to create an effect rather than containing anything of substance. What does “We will make our country strong once again” actually mean? Where is the value in this froth?
Politicians are often little more than mutant salesmen (and saleswomen) who have highly developed skills in sophistry. They project passion but lack sincerity. The Knot Garden believes that these are not the sort of people we need at the helm.