Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

The Rare Political Post

In reading this BBC opinion piece on American healthcare reform, what struck me more than the actual topic were its views on how careful politicians have to be.

They can’t try to teach the people – or they’ll sound condescending.

They can’t assume the people have a basic understanding – because they won’t.

Depressing. But, I think, true.

I don’t know much about politics on purpose – because it depresses me. I realize that’s an appalling reason not to get involved – that I feel it’s beyond hope. But let me explain.

From what I know, our country was founded with the tacit understanding that our leaders would be part-time politicians. You’d go serve your time helping run the country, and then you’d go back to your farm. But that’s completely upside-down now.

We not only have career politicians, we have dynasties of them. These people can’t possibly understand what it’s like for their constituents. That’s not a crack on them – I think most of them are brilliant and well-intentioned. But they’ve spent their lives on the Hill: the outside world is foreign.

Our democracy was meant to be “of the people” but it’s now run by a group of ultra-specialists. How can a leadership that insular function in our best interests? And how could we change that, when it seems so inherently incapable of working?

Comments

Sarah Morgan

Yes but.

Yes: specialists have their place.

But: are our politicians specialists in representing our best interests, or in getting themselves elected to the highest possible office? I don’t think those are the same thing.

Jeff

I definitely agree with the sentiment and with the intent of the founding fathers, but I’d argue you’re much better off with a “specialist.” If you have one person representing you in the government do you want it to be someone that knows what they’re doing or someone mostly clueless on process and procedures and who doesn’t really have a long-term vested interest in the outcome?

Do you want the person you send to Washington to fight for healthcare to be someone that’s just going to show up and cast a vote or someone who knows how to work the process to fight for things you care about? What if you’re having issues dealing with the bureaucracy (say, not receiving social security benefits) and need your representative to intervene?

Being an expert in working the system is a great advantage and that doesn’t come easily and often takes years to fully develop. Legislating and governing are incredibly complex jobs. You generally only see the big votes or made-for-tv hearings, but it is a 24-7 kind of job that can take years to master. More ideally, I’d think is having a government made up of people from diverse backgrounds: business, academia, science, law, etc.

Sarah Morgan

E – Absolutely. It’s terrifying how many people accept the news entirely un-critically.

Steve – Term limits help, but I don’t think they solve the whole problem. They don’t seem to, anyway.

Doug – I’m sure you’re right. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt. But doesn’t the existence of lobbyists just give the actual politicians a pass on having to be knowledgeable?

Doug

Only part of this I take issue with is the characterization of our elected officials as “brilliant.” I spent enough years living in DC to know that the majority of them register frighteningly high on the bimbo scale. Seriously: they’re the kids who were popular enough in school to get buy on their looks or being smooth, particularly the boobs in the House. A lot of these guys would have trouble passing any test that didn’t involve shaking hands and feigning concern. No doubt there are some extremely bright ones in there, but don’t make the mistake of assuming these mouthbreathers are smarter than you or –gasp!–“know what they’re doing.” (If I wanted to go on, I’d talk about why this is actually a great argument for why we NEED lobbyists)

steve woodruff

Two words: Term limits.

Erin

This is very well said. There is also the aspect of the media. Not only are Americans uninformed (for the most part), so many take the news as gospel.

great example: our ridiculous mayor was on the news for “rescuing” a terminally ill woman from the snow. With a camera crew. It aired all day on Wednesday. News, hardly. PR stunt, yes. Who bought it? Everyone of my coworkers.

It’s such a broken system and I couldn’t even point someone in the direction to fix it.

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