Selecting and electing

By PHIL HOSKINS

For a variety of reasons, we in the U. S. have developed some very strange rituals for the selection and election of our political representatives. We have pretty much guaranteed that we will get at best mediocre candidates and will elect those who lie to us the most effectively.

I always am torn between crediting the media for its slavish emphasis on the human foibles of candidates (and others) or tagging we the citizens with our short attention spans and penchant for the sensational rather than the substantive.

I am torn because, after all, media outlets thrive on our attention to them and will do, like the street walkers they are, almost anything to get it. As Bill Maher pointed out on his HBO season opener, you may have missed the news on global warming because Anna Nicole smith died. We heard about Sen. Joe Biden’s awkward comments about a “clean” Sen. Obama rather than hearing about Sen. Biden’s proposals for America.

So which came first, our puny ability to tolerate real discussion or the media’s lack of willingness to provide real discussions? Knowing only a few journalists but a whole lot of Americans, I have to straddle the fence and a lot the blame in generous portions to both. As a nation, we have an attention span of 6 seconds and foresight of about five days. We have a national case of AHDD and we keep dosing ourselves with more crap convinced that it will end the pain. But it doesn’t, and that is how we got George Bush Jr. as President.

Having come close, recently, to a local city council election in my little city of West Hollywood, I see how even at this most local level the candidate pool is shallow and those who self select probably are not the best equipped to make the decisions the city faces. It gets worse the farther up the food chain we go, culminating in the extravaganza of banality we call a Presidential election.

Those people who might actually have good ideas, a talent for leadership and otherwise would provide what we need to rescue our nation from a painful suicide are unlikely to seek office at any level, and least of all for the highest office. Fist, no sane person would be willing to go through the public bone picking over their most private matters. Second, no person with a shred of dignity and moral courage would go about the process of begging for the money required to run for office. It is demeaning and opens up opportunities for corruption that are anathema to our system.

If you look at recent campaigns, the only logical conclusion is that we insist on candidates that have either never done anything wrong in their lives, have never misspoken, always been consistent – or they have embraced Jesus as their savior and are born again. Sen. Kerry was defeated in large part because his opponent successfully painted him as a “flip flopper” meaning, apparently, that anyone who changes their mind about something is unelectable. That certainly would have excluded virtually all prior Presidents except possibly Calvin Coolidge.

Now we hear that Sen. Clinton should apologize for her vote to empower the President to invade Iraq. This despite the fact that her statements at the time made it clear she did not favor going to war and wanted diplomatic means to prevail. If an apology is forthcoming from her it should be for trying too hard to act like her male counterparts and try to sound like the whole thing is a thought out, consistent issue.

As the campaign rolls out, we will be fed sound bites, passages taken out of context, an emphasis on gaffes and human foibles that will have virtually nothing to do with the real issues facing our cities, states and nation. We have a number of critical, pressing issues that deserve and need our immediate attention.

So put down the Xbox 360, tell the kids to get out the books you have been meaning to give them and do your homework, America. Let Brittney Spears do her thing without you knowing about it for a year. Forget what crazy astronauts do in their spare time and pay attention to what is happening, or more accurately, what is NOT happening.

It may take a few hours to understand the health care crisis, and maybe even more to figure out how you and I are getting screwed to the rack by China and the other creditor nations who now own us and could cut us off at any moment. There are complex matters that require your undivided attention and there is no cure to be found on American Idol.

We have serious problems. If you have the rare chance to speak to a candidate for any office, don’t let them get past you with platitudes and bullshit. Demand a thoughtful, truthful, direct answer. This is what citizens do. If you think you deserve better than what we have now in public office, demand it. Don’t vote for the “lesser of two evils” vote for the best candidate, of whatever party.

Stop the madness! Be an American, not a wimp.

(Phil Hoskins is a Hollywood attorney who founded “Take Back West Hollywood.”)

8 Responses to "Selecting and electing"

  1. AustinRanter  February 17, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    ….Teaching civics has become a dinosaur in public schools. There’s no mystery at work. There’s no confusion about the grave yard keeper of academics burying the educational course that just merely informs our children how the government is constructed and performs its task on behalf of “We The People”. Disseminating such information could create an adverse affect on the future of politics and the NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    ….The endless rants about how bad our political system is doesn’t seem to include where to start to end the insanity, the despotism, the departure from our Constitution by those in Government that think they are the guardians of.

    ….As long as our children are kept from the truth, the NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is safe.

    ….For all of the generations that created this NEW FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, I suggest its too late for us. THE CHILDREN MUST RESTORE OUR GOVERNMENT TO ITS ORIGINAL INTENT.

    ….If there was ever a movement by the people, we have to start where our best option is, we start over, at the beginning with teaching children from the earliest age possible about the Federalist Papers, The Constitution of the United States, The Declaration of Independence. We have to teach them with dedication and intense efforts.

  2. Sandy Price  February 17, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Bravo Phil! I have been searching for a news station that gives me what I want to know. MSNBC started out being that station after I discovered the problem with Fox. Suddenly the numbers started being posted and MSNBC was not even in the top 4. So they slipped into the old tabloid coverage that continues to this day.

    I keep slipping back into CHB for the articles, Doug’s Rant and your comments on Reader Rant. This is where I get my sources for learning more about what is happening in America and elsewhere. I do not believe it will be possible to find a candidate in any party that is not on a leash and collar from the media.

    We had one back in 1992 but he was very weird in his personality and that was Ross Perot. He woke me up to the truth about the GOP and their list of leaders who walked on water. He taught me to learn about our relationship with our neighbors and to beware of the NAFTA mess. He also suggested that every American develop a moral set of values so the government wouldn’t have to do it.

    Sadly we don’t make men like this very often but we will find them as a team.

    Good article! I thank you for it as it came across like a pep talk; just what we need.

  3. Ray  February 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm

    Ron Paul is the ONLY MAN in government that is worthy of the peoples trust. Check his voting record and try to find any scandulous history on him. He is honorable and most of all he is for smaller government and upholding the constitution above all enemies foriegn and DOMESTIC. I would say our enemies are the latter at the present time.

  4. Joe Keegan  February 17, 2007 at 9:19 pm

    One of the reasons is that in many instances the selection is hereditary. What continues to amaze me is that many of these scions of wealth, privilege, and political dynasties don’t even arise to the level of mediocre. Former NYC Mayor John C. Lindsey once said something to the effect that any successful politician has to sell his soul. I’m beginning to wonder if some of our politicians had any soul to begin with or else those with one were eliminated after vetting.

  5. John Hanks  February 19, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    The media always drives the getaway car after the crooks have robbed the bank. Private electronic media should be abolished. If feeds on people’s weaknesses.

  6. Kent Shaw  February 19, 2007 at 6:29 pm

    .

    Ron Paul is about the only worthwhile politician I can think of at the moment at the national level.

    .

  7. Bill Robinson  February 19, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Oh stop this bickering. My pal the Law Professor at Kansas says we should have a random selection for our politicians, and select them the same way we select a jury. One term of service then out. His argument was that the randomly selected senator, congressional representative, or jurist wouldn’t do much worse than the crook who is currently in office for less than 100 days a year and on junkets for about the same 100 days whoring and “fact finding” about Machu Pichu details and it’s effects on Senatorial sphyncter functions.

    My pal who is a Marxist and a Professor of Political Science at a well known but unnamed Midwest University says we should purge the lot (Pardon me for putting words to what I believe are your inner thoughts H.)and install a more liberal leftist government of the people.

    I feel one three year term for all public officials would suffice and hold down the graft and some of the stupidity. Experience has not proved itself to be an advantage in governing our country, so let the novices try it for a century or so. The founding fathers were novices when they started, and they came up with a nice Declaration of Independence and followed it with a pretty great Constitution and a KO punch of a Bill of Rights to cover the omissions. Only some asses like the Bush/Cheney team have come along and tried to circumvent these noble documents, but it looks like they might fail after all.

    Let’s hope so.

  8. Frank H M Smith  February 19, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    While you are thinking about the general stultifying quality of the field of declared candidates, remember that there is one candidate who actually follows the constitution in his votes in Congress. This has earned him the nick-name ‘Dr No’ because following the constitution means voting against so much of what the fed gov keeps doing.

    This is, of course Dr Ron Paul, R Texas, and he is well worth looking at as an example of what a Representative could be and so rarely is!

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