Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Be careful what you wish for ...

The complaint during the last general election was that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was too beholden to the “establishment.” As a result she faced a strong opposition from Sen. Bernie Sanders, not even a registered Democrat until he decided to run; and was ultimately defeated by real estate tycoon Donald Trump.

But in the four months that Trump has been president he’s had numerous goof-ups, most recently and notably allegedly sharing classified information (“state secrets”) with the Russian government.

A number of his defenders over the past few months have said something to the extent of Give him time — he needs it to get things right. They should have thought of that beforehand because rookies don’t make those kinds of egregious mistakes.

They're also saying, He’s got good people around him. But from where will they come? The ranks of the “establishment” which they said they voted against.

This leads to the question: Why is politics, especially in Washington D.C., the one occupation where experience is a bad thing? It seems to me that at that level you would want someone who knows how to legislate, which these days includes making deals with other politicians, and dealing with foreign governments. After all, in any other line of work you need experience and, whether we want to admit it or not, politics is a line of work.

The myth — and it is a myth — of the “citizen legislator” certainly dies hard. The thinking goes that folks would go to Washington [or the state capitol of your choice], stay for a term or two and then come back home. What they don’t tell you is that the only people who had the time to do that were wealthy landowners, especially considering that nearly three-quarter of Americans lived on farms and didn’t have the time or energy to get involved in political matters. Like it or not, we’ve always needed a “political class” that knows what it’s doing, and that’s especially the case since the “Industrial Revolution” at the turn of the last century.

Frankly, we’ve always had an élite class running things at the top, and there’s no reason to believe that that will change now. And, even more frankly, whether we want to accept that or not, Trump has always been a part of that élite class. (Would you have even heard of him otherwise?)

That explains the saying “Be careful what you wish for — you just might get it,” the implication that it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. People demanded a president they perceived as independent from the “establishment” and thus should be prepared to accept more of the incompetence that he’s so far displayed. Perhaps they’ll learn better next time.

No comments: