I am a wee bit distracted this week. We’ll get into it more soon, likely next week, but I made a semi-major purchase over the weekend. Which, of course, demands that I share a lot of words about the research that went into said purchase and how the purchase is working out. But that’s a few more days away.

In the meantime, a rare political post!

It’s the worst time of the year. That’s right, it’s candidate declaration season! Every couple days another person throws their hat into the ring for the process to determine who will face off in the presidential election next year. Although the Twitter/Instagram/Facebook announcement is becoming the cool way to declare, these cyber-announcements are quickly followed up with the traditional speech to the true believers that presents a pleasing photo opp for the evening news.

(Quick aside: I’m just not into politics the way I used to be. I find the way political matters are generally discussed in this country to be toxic. All of us – media, politicians, and general public – spend far too much time focused on who is winning the day, the news cycle, the week, etc. Deep, substantive discussions of policies, their implications, and seeking compromise that helps the most people gets pushed to the background. There’s plenty of in-depth material out there. But that isn’t sexy, so much more air time gets allotted to the lowest hanging fruit: who is insulting whom.

I think this is bad for the country. Political opponents are painted as evil, America-hating “others.” It’s not just that their politics are bad, but they are genuinely bad people that must be destroyed. People have been hating politicians since the first election. But the legitimacy of the democratic process is put into question by the pure hate we spew at folks with the wrong letter after their name. I have little interest getting worked up about the things I used to care deeply about when I know it will turn into some nasty, bloody battle that ends with me angry at people while others challenge my right to hold my views.

As I said, this is toxic. It drives a lot of people, me being the perfect example, out of the process. When we cede the political process to the nuts at all extremes, nothing good can come of it.

OK, not-so-quick aside. Sorry.)

The thing that fascinates me about this time of year is the amount of ego it takes to believe that you have the answers to the problems of our country.[1] I find this true of even politicians I’ve supported and voted for, not just those whose views are polar opposites of mine. That concept is utterly foreign to me. I have a hard time being the leader of a small group of people. I can’t imagine looking in the mirror and thinking, “Yep, I’m the guy to lead America forward for the next eight years!”

But the ones who really jump out at me are the folks who have never worked in government. The “Washington is a mess, and I can fix it!” crowd. The people whose only experience with government is lobbying for handouts or special benefits for their own businesses. Or who have held a position as far outside government as you can get.

You have to admire the figurative balls this takes.[2] If I, with no experience running a business or managing people, showed up at a stockholders meeting of, say, Apple, and insisted that I could run the company better than Tim Cook, I would be laughed out of the room, But in politics, because so many of us are alienated by every step of the process, a bunch of us actually believe that this is a reasonable argument. Candidate A has never held elective office, has never worked as part of an elected official’s executive team, but is going to magically step into the White House and somehow force the 535 members of Congress, the entire judicial branch, and every employee at every level of the Federal government to “work right,” whatever that means. Through sheer force of will and personality, this candidate is going to make the largest bureaucracy the world has ever known hum like a well-oiled machine.

When I’m listening to the news in the morning while I make breakfast and lunches and hear the latest candidate offer forceful declarations that they are just the man/woman to do all this, I have to chuckle and shake my head. I think all politicians are full of shit. The people who have never been a part of an elected government, though, are full of a very special kind of shit.

But I also give them credit. If you’re going to swing, might as well swing for the fences.

  1. Or state, city, etc.  ↩
  2. Figurative being an especially important disclaimer now that women are running for president in each cycle.  ↩