Saturday, May 16, 2009

No Need for Heros, just public servants

Some in the GOP are looking for the Hero to swoop in and save the GOP. They are wrong.
We don't need no stinkin' Heros: "Mimicking the Left’s idolatry isn’t the path to GOP salvation. It’s the path to permanent ruin." "We don’t need a GOP hero. What we need is for the American people to stand up for what is right."

Or as I would put it, we need American voters to rediscover their inner patriot and figure out how to pick elected officials more wisely.

If we search for heroes and saints amongst politicians, we will search in vain. For in fact, democratic politicians are who they are because of the people themselves:
Men of principle get swept away in elections for holding unpopular positions.
Men of integrity lose to those dishonest flatterers of public passions.
Men of high intelligence are seen as out-of-touch with the people, while true patriots plucked from the people may be good public servants but lesser politicians, lacking the artful skills of the professional politicians.
Men who are citizens first and politicians second lack the time, ambition and sponsors to compete in the rough arena of democratic politics.

Thus in all respects, those who might serve us as heroes and saints would are harried and constrained from doing so. And its the people themselves who are to blame. Yet they cannot do it any other way. It's not easy to discern between a panderer and a listener; a man of ideas and a mere plagiarizer of them; a patriot and a inciter of public fears. Most politicians are just a faint reflection of who we really need to lead us, because most voters put less care in the serious selection than buying a cereal box.

We make things worse when we grade 'our' politicians against the standards of the impossible hero - the man whose charisma will overwhelm opponents, disarm critics and manage to speak out for exactly what we want (never mind what the diversity of disagreeable other people want). We curse those who do our bidding, imperfectly (as humans do), while demanding the impossible.

The best we can expect out of a politician is honesty and attention to the needs of his constituents while maintaining some modicum of consistency built on a foundation of principles. The best we can expect is some competency in articulation, enough to let people know where he stands and why, enough to convince those fence-sitters and serve notice to opponents that he might bend but he wont break. The best we can do as voters is make sure that the candidates satisfy sufficiently in the areas of character, competence, and vision so that we will be less likely to be disappointed down the road.

We don't need heroes, just public servants. It's up to us as voters to stop sending the best of breed to the showers.

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