Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Center of it All.

At a time in our historical past, it was assumed that the Earth was the centerpiece of our corner of the universe. Although some wiser observers suspected otherwise, it wasn’t until Galileo used telescopic evidence to prove that the planets orbited the Sun that our Earth-centric point of view was discredited. Unfortunately, there some who sit in the seats of power that haven’t discovered that the world doesn’t revolve around their ego-centric universes. We often complain because politicians seem oblivious to our concerns, or dismissive of our preferences. The problem as it appears to me is that so many of the political class are so egocentric that they assume that their remedies are the best and only viable solutions for their perceived problems. It’s not that they ignore citizen input, but rather that they overvalue their own contributions.
For those of you who are familiar with teams of horses, the harness configuration often includes a “blinder” that is mounted near the horse’s eye and limits peripheral vision. Many people in public life are so taken with their electoral successes that they operate is if they are equipped with blinders. Another visual for this phenomenon could be “tunnel vision.”  The politico sees only straight ahead with little awareness of competing options, intervening variables and other legitimate points of view. It often puzzles us why someone who is intentionally vague and indecisive during a campaign suddenly develops the single purposed approach when confronted with an issue. That solution is often the one that involves additional government action and increasing taxpayer funding. The ego driven politician wants the problem to be “resolved” by the state because he/she desires to be in a position of guidance.
Rather than expecting our egocentric politicians to think “outside the box” where innovative and practical solutions may exist, we should first work to shrink the box by forcefully and resolutely limiting the government’s input. Narrow minded egomaniacs should be restricted to small places lest their overblown sense of self-importance prod them into proposing massive government action to solve problems that exist only in their narrow self-indulgent minds. We should gracefully and forcefully inform them that the ability to beg and wheedle for thousands or millions of campaign dollars does not infuse them with omniscience. We must educate our political careerists that starched shirts and shiny shoes does not automatically make one an expert in everything. We have a duty to inform the political class that their duty is not to discover problems and create government solutions for them, but rather to anticipate instances where government may impede our opportunities for problem solving. They must be taught or required to remove the blinders, surgically if necessary, so that they may observe that citizens have the means and the desire to arrive at solutions.
Yes, I know, a series of “they should” is not a prescription for responsible government, but what I’m attempting to illustrate here is that when we elect people and send them to the cocoons in Washington and Columbus, they go there with their blinders firmly attached. In most cases they assume that the people elected them to solve problems and propose legislation. Obviously, the only tools available in the capitols are political ones, and they feel compelled to use them. We must disabuse them of that notion as we actively engage them in the accountability process. We must make them aware during the campaign and thereafter that we expect their efforts to be more focused on dismantling the state apparatus rather than on legislative tweaks. Our politicians are not our Sun…they’re not that bright.


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