An apocryphal saying attributed to both Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken declares the only way to look at a politician is “down.”
I can certainly understand the sentiment and add the only thing worse than a die-hard Republican is a die-hard Democrat.Life at the extremes is uncompromising, vitriolic, insular and the extreme polarity does not lead to compromise or progress – merely ranting and raving.
Today those who believe me to be in the pocket of the Bernie Bros or “libtards” because I point out the many obvious problems with a president who has the predilection for lying as much as other living humans have a predilection for breathing are the same who said nothing or cheered when I pointed out my problems with the Obama Administration.
Those who hated when I pointed out my differences with the previous administration’s problems with the First Amendment, whistle blowers and the mistreatment of NASA, today think have suddenly opened my eyes.
I do nothate Donald Trump. I do not love Barack Obama. I loathe most politicians for their lack of honesty, lack of imagination and their loyalty to party and money over city, county, state or country.
Our job as reporters is to find out exactly what the elected members of government, from school board members to the president of the United States are actually doing on the taxpayers dime.
For that to work, we must set aside our personal preferences and poke hard – especially at those we love the most.
If I am doing my job right, then you will never know who I personally support or why. It is not my job to be a cheerleader. My job is to hold all politicians accountable. That’s one reason why this newspaper and its sister publication do not endorse politicians running for office.
We do not think our opinion about who should be in office is any more important than the readers. We may be better informed because of our daily interaction with the politicians, but it is not our job to tell you what to think or how. Our job is to inform our readers so they can form their own opinions.
That being said, I have strong opinions as a writer, a sentient human and one who is in constant contact with a variety of politicians. When I state my opinion I do so here on a page clearly labeled as an opinion page.
And while I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments of Mencken and Twain - two fine examples of American critical thinkers and humorists - I do not think they go far enough.
The American politician is merely an extension of the American voting public. No politician, from the president down to the school board member, is an aberration of the system. They all came from the system and they all are not only the products of our system but the very embodiment of it.
Look around at the average voter – with social media that is quite easy to do today. The blather and vitriol is easily on display. And while most voters, or non-voters, have never had a personal interaction with most politicians, that fact does not keep anyone from voicing their opinion as if it is the only one that matters and is the most well-informed opinion on the planet.
I tell reporters who come to work for me that I do not care what they think – and I barely care what I think. I only care about what you know as fact.
The problems in this country are shared by us all and we all should share responsibility in finding the solutions. Not only do we need to listen to one another and work toward common goals and solutions, but we need to be as active at the voting polls as we are on social media.
Whether you love or hate James Comey, the one thing he said in his national interview on ABC that made me nod in unquestioning agreement was his statement that he didn’t want President Donald Trump impeached. He wanted the electorate to cease taking the easy way out and become more involved. Vote the rascals out.
That is the only way a democracy can work – with participation by everyone. For too long we have believed there’s no way to fight city hall. Our voices do not matter. I have to get the kids ready for soccer practice, so hey I do not have time to be involved.
Recent actions here and across the globe show without a doubt we have to get involved and stay involved. It is a lifelong endeavor as much as breathing is – and it is far too important to leave to the politicians whose primary interest is staying in office with a paying job.
For let us be honest – most politicians on either side of the great divide are equally unable to hold on to a decent job outside of politics. Far from attracting the best and the brightest, politics attracts the worst and dimmest.
It is to the advantage of the rest of us to hold their powers to a minimum and their compensation next to nothing.