“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Most attribute that adage to Abraham Lincoln, a Republican politician, though some argue for legendary showman PT Barnum. For purposes of this discussion it doesn’t much matter which one said it, because in today’s world enough of us are fools so much of the time that the rest of us suffer as if we’re all fools all the time.
No, I’m not talking about the ridiculous political campaign rhetoric tossed at us with about as much sincerity and honest intentions as a hooker’s smile. An example of that scenario will play out tomorrow as Greeks vote to see who will replace the non-political caretaker government appointed to run their country after their elected legislators ignominiously failed to agree upon who should run it. Tomorrow’s election is fraught with promises that cannot possibly be kept, consequences few want to grasp, and a result likely far worse that the current situation. But I’m not talking about that.
|May 6, 2012 Election Results--no coalition formed|
I’m talking about the US. Americans pride themselves on hard work and honest government, but are we any better governed than the suffering Greeks who must contend with an entrenched political hierarchy that puts vested personal self-interest and cash above the common good?
Yes, cash. Okay, in the US the cash transaction typically doesn’t involve the Greek’s traditional envelope or untraditional Pampers box, but rather opportunities to trade on insider information (a crime for mere mortals) or receive preferential investment deals from companies seeking government support. Both put cash in a legislator’s pocket—and the legislator likely in the pocket of the benefactor. Now, thanks to the US Supreme Court’s infamous (from my way of thinking) Citizens United decision allowing unlimited corporate campaign contributions, there’s no doubt that cash rules the Congressional and Executive branches of government. Not sure what holds the top spot with the Judiciary, but it’s likely one of the seven deadly sins.
With all due respect to Lincoln and Barnum, I think today’s truism on American politics is, “Money talks. End of Story.”
We need to find a way to get things back on track. And fast. Think of Greece as our canary in the mine, revealing what happens when those we trust to govern on our behalf lose sight of their primary obligation to do what is best for their country.
Here are some thoughts expressed this week by Alexis Papachelas, managing editor of Athens’ Kathimerini. He wrote of what it meant to see his government in the hands of people working for love of country, not personal ambition.
These days I often hear state officials and ordinary people saying: “I wish previous governments had the quality of the current caretaker administration…”
The question is this: Why don’t we see people like [these] taking government posts unless they are in emergency or caretaker governments?
A first response would be that they…would not be elected if they were included on party tickets.
A different response would be because they would be snubbed by most mainstream TV networks because of low ratings.
A third explanation is that the traditional parties are highly allergic to such people; rather, they are treated with envy, disdain and, sometimes, fear.
It’s a pity that we never got a chance to see such a government…
It’s sad to have to put up with all those who systematically attack any serious individual... They either want governments staffed with TV personalities so that they can get close to the political personnel or they are concerned about losing the lavish handouts by any party army that climbs to power.
It’s time we got serious.
Yes, my fellow Americans, it’s time we got serious.