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At this point in the evolution of my blog, I’ve managed to refrain from political commentary. Other than complaining about mind-numbing political ads, I’ve stayed off my soapbox (it’s not wheelchair accessible anyway). For one thing, I risk alienating at least 50% of my potential readers by spewing any political rhetoric, thereby detracting from my core message about living a contented life as a disabled person. However, I believe I can discuss the general state of politics without being political- without revealing if I am a democrat, republican, or something else altogether.
As I wander aimlessly through my day-to-day existence, I find myself drawn to certain types of people. I believe that there exists a continuum between those at one end of the spectrum who are open-minded and easily confess their ignorance versus people at the other end who are resolute in their convictions and believe they possess the answers to even the unanswerable questions. If this were a numerical scale from 0 to 10, I would be a solid three (closer to the wishy-washy end than to the know-it-all end), and would be most interested in spending time with other 3’s (plus or minus about 2 points, you know, give or take).
People can be open-minded to the point of being absolutely spineless, a 0 or 1 on my scale. The more intellectual folks in that group can make you think twice about any subject, but come off as a bit tiresome after a while. But I am more wary of, and more easily bored by anyone who thinks they have all the answers. So what is it about our democratic system of government that compels us to elect only politicians who are solid 9’s and 10’s, or at least pretend to be?
Our world – our economies, our societies, our environment – is so complex, isn't it absurd for anyone to claim to understand how it actually works? Yet, if a politician so much as changes her mind once or twice in her lifetime, or admits in public that he is undecided on an important issue, then we label them indecisive and disqualify them from public office. How did we get to this point? We are the voters, after all, so we have no one to blame but ourselves and our self-deluded concept that people who act as if they know everything actually do.
People who score high on my makeshift scale can be said to have a God Complex. They believe they have the answers to questions that are (currently) unanswerable by humans. Why can't we elect candidates who humbly admit they don't know the answers, but who are intelligent and open-minded, and will carefully and thoughtfully engage in trial and error analysis until an optimum, or at least acceptable solution is reached?
I will tune in to the weatherman, I will quaff a beer with the science teacher, I will vote for the politician who admits that they don't have the answers, but enjoy pondering the questions- the person who will only take action based on deliberate and unbiased consideration of the best possible information, but will course-correct as new evidence emerges. I'm acquainted with several of these people, but none of them would be crazy enough to run for political office. How do we change that?
Winston Churchill's famous quote is appropriate here: "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all others that have been tried."
Much of our democratic political system is utterly insulting to our intelligence. I've mentioned the political ads in an earlier post, and here I've spoken to the fact that our candidates are not allowed to be flexible and thoughtful. So I have to believe that someday, probably later rather than sooner, democracy will evolve into something better than what it is today. At least I hope it does.
This rant was partially inspired from a Ted talk by Tim Harford. Please take a few minutes to listen to somebody who expresses himself a lot better than I do: