Friday, October 21, 2011

News flash: Bad politicians are normal

It is a sad truism that, in politics, the worst often get to the top. In our grand democracy, the Founding Fathers, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR (and I'd argue, Obama) -- the best of us -- were providential flukes. As history has borne out, mediocrity (and often rank incompetence) is the default position for most politicians. Or as H.L Mencken colorfully put it: "The average American legislator is not only an ass, but also an oblique, sinister, depraved and knavish fellow." The Sage of Baltimore was exaggerating of course, but he's not too far off the mark (see the current clowns -- on both sides of the aisle -- in Congress). In an interesting piece ("What Kind of Person Runs for Public Office?"), Doug French wrote: "Because democracy is open to any and all who can get themselves elected, either through connections, personality, or personal wealth, it is a social system where leadership positions become a hotbed for sociopaths. [Abraham] Maslow's self-actualizing man won't have an interest in politics. But those stuck on the need for esteem are drawn to it like flies to cow pies." Need more proof? Yesterday, New Jersey state senate candidate Phil Mitsch, a pol with a serious Madonna-whore complex, tweeted to his fans: "Women, you increase your odds of keeping your men by being faithful, a lady in the living room and a whore in the bedroom." Yikes. Needless to say, Mitsch was forced to apologize for his remarks. And, if one connects the dots, I'm sure he has some 'splaining to do to the presumably faithful Mrs. Mitsch. Somehow, our democracy continues to survive these case studies in vacuousness. But as politicians go, we could sure use more providential flukes before our luck runs out.

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