Saturday, September 4, 2010

Lie to me or I won't vote for you

A recent Rasmussen report told us that only 16% of those polled believed Congress's performance to be good or excellent. The report helpfully adds that this is the highest approval rating Congress has had over the past 12 months.

What this shows us is that America is cursed with a particular group of incompetent knuckleheads who know as much about governing as do Larry, Moe and Curly. I'm talking, of course, about the American voters.

Let's vote for the cute one!

When you consider that we, the voters, hire these people in Congress, and that we also review their performance every two years, it's astonishing that over the past five or six years we've generally given them approval ratings below 50% and usually closer to 15%. What kind of idiots are we that we don't know how to hire good people to serve us?

Well I'll tell you what kind of idiots we are: the kind of idiots who require our representatives to pay for their campaigns with money from the likes of BP and ExxonMobil, and then imagine that these corporate-bought lawmakers are going to ignore their benefactors and do what we, the voters, ask of them. Duh.

Of course in their campaigns our office-seekers always promise us that they will work for "the American people," and will stick it to "the special interests," but only a bunch of dimwits would believe they will actually keep their word and "stick it to" the very interests that paid for their campaigns. In effect, we require that our politicians lie to us. If they don't, we will refuse to vote for them.

To illustrate the "Lie to me or I won't vote for you," principle, consider my favorite cartoon show, The Simpsons. (Yes, more fun than South Park or Family Guy, though those shows are cool in their own way.)

Let's say Smithers is running for Mayor of Springfield and the conniving plutocrat and nuclear power broker, Montgomery Burns, is funding his campaign. Burns pays for Smithers' campaign because he wants Smithers, once in office, to eliminate all the government regulations that keep nuclear waste out of the local reservoir -- the source of the public's drinking water. This will boost the profits of Mr. Burns' nuclear power plant, but it is not necessarily good for the people who drink the reservoir water. (Burns presumably has his own water flown in from Evian, France.)

Just Go Ahead and Trust Me

Now Smithers is not going to say, "Vote for me and I will let the guy who is paying for this ad poison your water!" That would be honest, but probably not a winning strategy. So, he takes Burns' money and uses it to run ads saying, "Vote for me and I will clean out the special interests who control the Springfield city hall!" People will vote for him because he is telling them just the exact lie they want to hear.

This is why I can guarantee that once the new Congress is in place next year, though it will surely have dozens of newly minted office holders, it will not enjoy an enduring surge in its approval ratings. People will continue to complain about its incompetence and corruption as they have for years.

But don't blame the people we hire to represent us. We are, after all, their bosses. It's just that we haven't designed a campaign system that allows politicians to tell us the truth, one in which they can fund their own elections with adequate public money instead of needing to rely on money acquired from the very interests that are inclined to seek special favors.

So, next time you hear someone whining about how bad Congress is, maybe you should ask them what kind of nincompoops hired that pack of double-talking four-flushers in the first place.