Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More About Obama

Yesterday I wrote about President Obama's failure to act. Today let's take a look at who else isn't doing all that they could. I'll skip over Sarah Palin, who stepped down from elected office so that she could make speeches. It's hard to say whether her involvement in either of those endeavors would accomplish anything, but she seems to think she has made the correct choice.

I'll skip over the entire U.S. Congress, too. No need to talk any more about whether they are doing all that they could for the country or are too preoccupied with raising money for their next campaigns. Let's talk about you and me. We are the folks who read and write about politics, current events, the economy, and other pressing topics. Some of us are also the ones who from time to time attend demonstrations and lend our presence to the causes we believe in. Some of us may even be the ones who organize the actions. Are we doing all that we could?

Of course not. I could do more. So could you. So, would Obama be within his rights to write a blogpost about us, complaining that we aren't doing enough? He could, but it's hard to imagine anything that would get a politician in hotter water than complaining that the voters aren't doing enough to fix the country's problems.

The voters expect their elected officials to fix things. This is a representative democracy, right? We don't have the time or the expertise or the resources or the connections or the power to fix things ourselves. That's what we pay elected officials to do. And if they don't get everything fixed fast enough, we fire them by electing someone new.

The American people seem to be expecting the President to fix the economy, even though the President doesn't run the economy. We expect our government to guarantee us that we will be able to live with dignity in our old ages, even though we don't want to pay the taxes that the government would need in order to fulfill this guaranty. We want our government to make sure our water is drinkable and air is breathable, but we don't want the government to interfere with our lives or impose burdensome regulations on companies that would pollute the air and water.

In short, we are the terrible bosses that we all complain about all the time. We expect our employees (the President and other elected officials) to do the impossible, do it immediately, do it without the money or support they need, and to give themselves pay cuts. We are constantly criticizing our employees behind their backs, insulting them to their faces, and threatening to replace them with new employees. We are pitting one employee against another, giving them conflicting orders that change on a daily basis, undermining their authority, and then giving them poor marks on their evaluations. We are the bosses from Hell.

What do employees usually do when their bosses turn out to be jerks? They stop trying to do their jobs as well as they could, and instead they put their efforts into trying to fool their bosses into thinking they are doing more than they really are. They build empires to insulate themselves from criticism and responsibility. They figure out ways to get as much for themselves as they can, rather than trying to promote the business they are working for. They spend time looking for their next jobs, so they can leave the ones they have, or so they can have somewhere to go when they are fired, which they are constantly afraid will happen because they have no feeling of being appreciated or having job security.

Our politicians, it turns out, are doing exactly what the people they represent do in their own jobs, in part because we, the people they represent, are treating them just as badly as we feel we are being treated by our own bosses, whom we resent, and dislike, and for whom we have no respect. We feel like our employers don't deserve our loyalty because they have shown us no loyalty. And when we are in the position to act as the bosses, in the electoral system, we follow the same self-destructive patterns that we have learned as employees.

We are stuck on a carousel, shouting at the guy on the horse in front of us, and he is shouting at us, and we are all going in circles. Someone is going to have to get off and show some leadership.

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