The Internet is full of stories about politicians acting badly and doing the opposite of what they promised. Talk radio is full of the same things, all day, every day. Even around office water coolers, almost everyone will admit that politicians are liars and thieves.
Given all of this, it’s rather bizarre that people still believe and obey the bums. If we knew such things about a neighbor, would we continue to take them seriously?
Yet, for some reason, politicians get a permanent pass on anything stupid they do.
The first reason for this is simply that most people have been bamboozled. They were taught that government is necessary and that without it, we’d all be ignorant savages, eating whatever few berries and roots we could scrounge… that without government nothing would be built, nothing invented, and nothing taught.
That’s all propaganda, of course, paid for by the people it praises. But, it’s what we were all taught and it’s hard for people to let it go, no matter how stupid it is.
The second reason is that people are afraid. We all know why.
None of that, however, is what I want to cover today. Instead, I want to look at the subtle reasons why people can’t let go of “politics.” These reasons are very powerful, but they lie beneath the surface and are harder to identify than self-serving, government-funded BS.
Reason #1: I Can Blame Anyone but Me
Somehow, people all across the West have become pathologically afraid of blame. It probably began as a corrosive fear of hell: If I’m to blame for anything, I’ll go to hell, and that must be avoided.
But be that as it may, this fear of blame allows political parties to provide a highly desirable service: They help you assign all blame to others. If you like the Red party, you can always affix blame to the Blues and not to yourself. If you’re in the Blue party, you can lay all blame onto the Reds.
It’s actually an elegant scam. The Blue v. Red show lets everyone avoid taking any blame onto themselves, while the big machine keeps right on running.
This fear of blame is ridiculous, of course: We’ve all made mistakes. What matters is correcting them and not repeating them. But if we pretend we never make mistakes, nothing gets fixed and the problems continue.
This neurotic avoidance of blame puts politicians in wonderful position – they don’t actually have to solve anything, and any blame is deflected to their evil opposition.
Reason #2: It Makes Me Feel Brave at No Expense
Politics lets us pretend that we’re fixing problems at no expense, save talking. Actually doing something is not required. Politics empowers our mere words to generate powerful results.
At least that’s what people want to believe. It’s the easy way out. You never have to get up and act. You never have to take a real risk. No blood, no sweat, no tears.
This is just another scam, of course: The politicians continue do what they want, and the people keep right on believing, even though their words seldom generate any real results.
All they need to do is keep you in the game. So long as you keep hoping that your words will affect the future, they can do whatever they please.
The alternative would be taking responsibility onto yourself and acting on your own. Gain would require pain… precisely the thing that people want to avoid.
So, instead, they keep believing that politics will magically turn complaints into results, and they remain tied into the system, no matter how badly it fails them.
Reason #3: It Makes Me Feel Noble at No Expense
Politics lets you pour charity onto the targets of your choice, without any personal expense. The magical money pot in the capital city dispenses it, and you feel no pain.
It doesn’t matter what your target of choice is, by the way. For some, it’s “the less fortunate,” to others, it’s people on another continent. It really doesn’t matter, aside from the fact that it makes you feel good to help people and that you never have to put your hand into your own pocket.
Again, this is clearly a scam: The money comes from ourselves (in ways we don’t think about), from others (those super-rich people), or, primarily these days, from generations yet unborn in the form of state debt.
But, those are things that can be ignored, and politicians are always quick to help us ignore them.