Political dissatifaction runs deep

The one thing we can all agree on……

By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index

We at The Tacoma Daily Index do not take positions on political issues or candidates, but I’m going to step out and make a few observations, not about issues or candidates, but our political climate in general.

Yes, we are polarized, probably to a degree we have never seen before. So-called social media has certainly accelerated the speed and intensity of political discourse – especially when it allows false, manipulative or incomplete information to be posted anonymously.

That territory has been explored by a multitude of news sources across the political spectrum.

What I find interesting is not this political equivalent of trench warfare – no one, if we are honest, will change their position because of a social media post or meme, but the fact is that virtually everyone – of every political persuasion feels personally aggrieved, insulted, attacked and dissatisfied.

People love or hate the president – either the current one or the previous one, or the one before that, or the one before that.

People might love or hate the president – but from both sides of the political aisle, everyone seems to hate Congress.

The irony is that this attitude has barely changed over time.

There is nothing new about our distrust – even contempt – for those who build their careers (and sometimes fortunes) on fears, fantasies and vain promises.

Mark Twain, as you might expect, had some pointed comments for congress. Here are a few –

The lightning there is peculiar; it is so convincing, that when it strikes a thing it doesn’t leave enough of that thing behind for you to tell whether–Well, you’d think it was something valuable, and a Congressman had been there. – Mark Twain’s Speeches, “The Weather”

Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.  – Mark Twain, a Biography

We have the best government that money can buy.  – Mark Twain

Will Rogers, had this to say –  This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

P. J. O’Rourke more recently, had this to say – When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators.

In previous eras, giving any idea or suggestion a fair and objective hearing might cause one to change one’s mind on any given issue.

Currently it seems that on any topic from crime to taxes to climate change to homelessness that the one guiding principle seems to be the absolute refusal to even hear evidence, let alone change one’s mind.

Stubborn and ardent clinging to one’s opinion is the best proof of stupidity. – Michel de Montaigne

Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party. – Winston Churchill

Even those of the first generation of the Founding Fathers of America had lost their idealism;

“I have come to the conclusion that one useless man is a disgrace, that two become a law firm, and that three or more become a congress.  -John Adams

It has been said that we all go crazy in election years. Some more than others, certainly, but who among us does not find our social media feeds packed with raging, finger-pointing rants or memes with a focus on how “right” we are and how “wrong,” ignorant, biased or flat-out evil those who disagree with us are.

Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians. – Charles Krauthammer

The problem perhaps, is not our political system, but its presumption that we, its citizens, would be informed, fair and objective and wise enough to look beyond our own interests and consider the implications and impacts of our decisions on future generations.

Our political system requires a level of discernment and engagement few of us are willing to give it.

All too often, we give in to the impulse of fear or gain and the lowest common denominator defines our laws and our identity.

Maybe being the only one who could pull the sword from the stone wasn't such a bad process for picking a leader after all. Photo: Morf Morford
Maybe being the only one who could pull the sword from the stone wasn’t such a bad process for picking a leader after all. Photo: Morf Morford

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy   – Ernest Benn

Possibly our biggest failure as voters and citizens is our own neglect of keeping our public officials – our public servants – accountable.

We vote for them, and pay them and expect them to do their jobs without our supervision.

Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be – Sydney J. Harris

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened. 

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.

– Winston Churchill

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. – George Bernard Shaw

Modern politicians, since they speak on a near-constant basis, sometimes make statements that are almost profound, or at least hold more truth than they may have intended.

Things are more like they are now, than they ever were before. – Dwight D Eisenhower

If you’re sick and tired of the politics of cynicism and polls and principles, come and join this campaign!  – George W. Bush

I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.  – Dan Quayle

Is it any wonder then, that Congress as a whole, consistently rates as less popular than hemorrhoids, traffic jams, root canals and herpes.  (1*)  Even Nickelback.

We all know (I hope) that our legal system and our process should be fair and accessible.

Political and social stability and equity should cross all party lines and affiliations.

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law – Aristotle

The stakes are high, we dare not let inertia and our worst – or laziest – impulses win the day.

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you. – Pericles

Our elections, for better or worse, are media driven – we usually vote for someone based on their appearance or how articulate they are. Presidential candidates are chosen for their height more than any other single factor – particularly in times of crisis.  (2*)

Do any of us really believe that the candidate who is the best looking or tallest would make the best leader?

In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill, we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.  – Plato

In 2020 a record number of members of Congress are not running for re-election. Part of this is demographics, as many are well beyond 60 if not 70, but much of it has to do with the level of dissatisfaction they too, hold for the system.

No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. – Sir Winston Churchill

And, as with everything else it seems, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. – Aesop


(1*)    https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/276121-poll-congress-less-popular-than-colonoscopies-root-canals-nickleback

(2*)    https://www.thoughtco.com/does-the-tallest-presidential-candidate-win-3367512