With every election, I get more and more aggravated with the “none of the above movement”, where bloggers, pundits and the general population seem to be increasingly believe that none of the politicians represent their interests or is competent to govern.
Shame on you all. I am reminded of an old Simpsons episode, where Homer is yelling at his son’s football coach. Lisa tells him “it is easy to criticize”. Homer’s response: “Yeah… and fun too”.
I am not a politician but I have worked for or with them for most of my professional life. I can tell you a few things as fact:
1. The majority of politicians (at least in Canada) are in it out of a sense of civic duty. The pay is lousy, the hours excruciating and the scrutiny relentless. They are there because they want to serve.
2. Bad policy flows directly from an unengaged public. The tough issues politicians face are truly tough. Issues like reforming health care, protecting the environment, balancing individual and collective rights are incredibly complex issues, for which there is no simple solution – despite popular opinion developing policy in a democracy is far harder than developing a profitable product in the private sector. A public that is looking for simple policy answers that involve no trade-offs, financial or otherwise, is being unrealistic.
3. The media make the job harder. The 24 hour news cycle and reduced capacity in the media have created an environment where the easiest reporting on most political stories is to fins someone who disagrees and give them a platform. When the media does not understand the issues, it is impossible for them to engage the public in nuanced debate and compromise solutions.
4. Politicians may not be the best and the brightest (although some are) but there is not a long lineup of more talented people waiting to replace them.
And the 4th is my main point. If you believe that none of the current crop of political candidates is able to do the job, do something about it: run for office, volunteer on a campaign, propose constructive solutions in the blogospehere and do the grunt work to build support around them (this is the work part). It is trite to say that we get the government we deserve, but it is true.