So which Politician do you trust? None is the correct answer. If you accept a lack of perfection in those with minor temptations, then understand that those who specialize in attention-getting are loaded with temptations. Indeed they become dependent on their fulfillment.
If that disappoints, get over it because tribal faith in politics is corrupting if practiced by enough people. Only skeptical voters can protect us. Falling in love with politicians is folly and in the end destructive.
And, the consequences of love’s folly are worse. At the beginning of our nation, time was judicious. It took days, for example, to move between the homes of founders and Philadelphia, the seat of power during the revolutionary period. Impulses were suppressed as time passed; thoughts had to be voiced or written and then weeks or months or years interceded. Debate, often a look at ageless history, informed those who had the right to make final decisions.
Time is now paired with impulse which is found in the shallow end of the pool. We live in an age where our Supreme Court is crucially important. It is the final arbiter. A nod to Chief Justice Roberts who is now frequently called an institutionalist. Protecting, enhancing the institution, is a patriotic calling.
But let me go back to politicians. I have spent some years amongst them and while never running for office myself, I was in the rooms where the stories and tactics unfolded.
I was fortunate; most of the public figures I worked with at least began as idealists. And then they became politicians; all do. Performance talent and fortunate timing can accumulate true believers and then wealth chases the privileged—the privileged that occupy legislative chambers and the big white house.
At the true believer level there is no detachment. What the god of whatever office says is per force, true. And at the extreme, worth fighting for.
Politicians like devotion and the larger the bloc the better, so they feed it, they manipulate the bedrock believers who then form an unrelenting chorus to further elevate the god. We are now being fed by extremes and while time was once judicious, it is now an important element in manipulation. Solidify the bloc. Stimulate it. Raise money from it. Exert power. And avoid at all cost, nuance.
Several miles from where I live there is Loves Folly Farm Road. I do not know its history but I can imagine a certain irony in naming the farm. Much that we fall in love with often fails to love us back. When judging the politician of the moment, left or right, stick to flirtation. Our Republic will be appreciative.
One Hundredth Anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party
This from The Economist on qualifying for membership in the Chinese Communist Party:
“Induction begins with an application letter that needs the endorsement of two party members. Next comes an interview with an official from the party branch. Then the branch considers whether to proceed. If it does, the applicant becomes a “party-entry activist”. This phase can last a couple of years, during which the applicant must submit thought reports every three months, join political study session, do volunteer work and meet mentors from the branch who write evaluations. Then there are background checks—a process that involves investigating the political reliability of family and friends and examining school records. An applicant in the West for a government job involving official secrets would require less rigorous vetting.
If all goes well the applicant then has to swear an oath in front of the party flag, promising to guard party secrets, remain loyal and be “ready at all times to sacrifice my all for the party and the people. This means being willing to do as Mr Xi orders, without question. The party is his machine.”
To those who get angry over the inherent challenges of a democracy re-read the Chinese Communist Party requirements. No wonder they steal secrets from us.
Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al writes on themes from his book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books.