How to create a better 'class' of politicians

The kaleidoscopic nature of our daily existence is a feature of a living, breathing system. So, it is of little wonder that our government is given to wild gyrations as well. As we, the people of the United States, continue to insist that those who we elect do our bidding, we must come to realize our election system undermines itself because of its minimalist structure.

Our widely spaced elections are the only time that “the people” come together enough to be reckoned with as a force. Then “the people” disperse, with the winners taking an oath to be loyal to important but vague principles. After our elected representatives take office, their daily existence is subject to strong negative forces. They are cajoled, threatened, enticed, and molded into shapes that did not exist before their election. And then things get worse. Our elected elites see dollar signs beyond the relatively meager salaries they receive as their due compensation for living in such a pressure cooker.

The truth is that we elect other people to represent us so we can get on with our lives without constant attention to politics. But we should not be surprised when events surrounding our daily governance get distorted, sometimes beyond recognition. Just as we hire gardeners so we do not have to sweat and household help so we never have to personally address dust bunnies, we hire our elected officials to keep us from the mental confusion of having to deal with severe conflicts in the face of our previous sureties. Because our representatives absorb the shocks of real‑life conflict, we get to remain comfortably the same.

The problem is that we are slow to understand our circumstances. We still expect our elected officials to show fealty to their oaths when these oaths are merely single events that become tiny parts of a sweaty, dirty, huffing-and-puffing reality that sees their previous values quickly become decommissioned. However, there are things we, the people, can do, although they require the affected officials to cooperate.

Just like doctors, lawyers and accountants must take courses to maintain their professional certifications, I suggest that elected officials should be required to attend ongoing education classes. Perhaps “the people” should structure courses in good governmental practices and then insist that elected officials participate in those courses in order to receive “the people’s” continuing endorsements.

An official’s failure to participate can then be used as part of their general ratings during election season. These courses would be designed as antidotes to the pressures they would otherwise be suffering without this external support.

Clear thinking is developed only with the expenditure of energy, but we are designed to limit the usage of energy over the long term, not to expend it. Our politicians, in particular, require constant pressure and reminders of their duties and the consequences of their actions if they are to be resilient in the face of real-world corrosive forces.

Only a deep-seated modesty about how we function can save us from destroying ourselves. There are, of course, more paths that lead to destruction than to constructive outcomes. The minute we are sure of our conclusion, we lose the flexibility to choose differently based upon our closer study of the problem at hand. Our nature makes it easier for us to draw a conclusion than to question it.

IMAGE: Adult education modified by Andrea Widburg. Pixabay license.