Why Do Such Rotten People Thrive in Politics?

It starts at the local level.

It’s the incumbent local official who comes into the polling place with his name identification swag in full view, shaking hands, and it’s the election judge from his party who smiles and does nothing about it. All illegal electioneering. That former incumbent is now considered a highly respected elder statesman of his district. The judge is a pillar of her community.

It’s the high school senior’s mom working as an election judge who kicks all her 18-year old kid’s friends out of the polling place, denying them their rightful vote, when she knows exactly who they are and exactly where they live. The community considers her a wonderful citizen.

It’s the connected guy who works his connections to oust an elected delegate from a neighboring district, jealous that he didn’t make the slate. He’s considered a great guy.

It’s the local party leader who recruits volunteers and conducts meetings where she talks over everyone, picks out individuals to berate and publicly humiliate, and trash talks others behind their backs while being super friendly to them in person. Why is she so popular?

It’s the person who gathers a group to work against the Iraq war and then appropriates it to support Obamacare so he can remove his employees from his health care and put them on the very expensive exchange. Why does everyone think he’s so wonderful?

It’s the holier-than-thou purest who attacks others for every single little part of everyday live thing, what he’s wearing, what she’s eating, where they work, insisting everyone live a 100% politically pure life. That person never turns the mirror around on himself.

Then, there’s the most current Covid-19 inspired fake friendly sales pitch for volunteers, “I’m checking up to see if you’re okay……. but don’t answer that because I’m not really interested in your well-being. I really contacted your to work on a project to support some legislation that will lower my taxes.” Blocked that guy.

This is more than a morning rant. These people who I’ve described are some of the worst behaving yet most well-respected and highly popular individuals on the local political scene where I live. The same supporters of this motley crew would never tolerate them in their work or personal lives, yet they throw money, work and adulation at them in politics.

These are the people who control who even gets to the national level and it’s so bad on the national level that we have two old sexual harassing creeps vying for the presidency. The incumbent uses life-saving ventilators as patronage for loyalists. A completely worshiped former president who said no more dumb wars and then proceeded to maintain the old dumb wars and start new ones. Same guy said he personally suffered when others suffered and then supported bankers over people when the bankers crashed the economy. We have partisan celebrities steering fans to corporate boosters who will do nothing for them. We have a so-called leader of the #metoo #believewomen movement telling people to not believe women.

So, why are people so attracted to crooks, liars, and general creeps they’d probably dislike in real life? I have a few theories.

Connection. I think there are a lot of lonely people out there who want to belong to a group something. Some become uber-parents at their kids schools. Some join book club or a church. Others join political groups. They’re there for the social life these groups provide and don’t want to bother with the group’s policy agenda.

Do-Good Sheeple. People intuitively know things don’t seem right in the country and many don’t have the time or skill set to figure out what‘s gone wrong. They don’t want to bother with policy analysis. So, they look to others to figure it out for them. They’re so relieved when they find someone who explains things to them in oversimplified terms that they agree to anything and everything.

Mean Girls and Boys. It’s the same desire to attach to the most popular person in the room so many people had in high schools. The object of desire knows they can do pretty much anything and still get the adulation.

Celebrity. When Kerry or Obama or either Clinton was in the room, no one asked a hard question. Everyone asked for a picture. This trickled down to lower level politicians too. In fact, I don’t remember being in a room where anyone ever asked a hard question or made a rightful but difficult request of an elected official. They usually just thanked them for their service, unclear what actual service had been provided. I can’t forget one meeting for the parents of disabled children. The meeting was supposed to address some problems with local programs, and there were some serious problems. However, rather than asking for clarity on what was being done to improve the situation, the parents mostly apologized to the reps for their children’s needs and thanked them for doing absolutely nothing.

Access. Some want to connect with their local political leaders in hope of getting a job or access to business. I know a lot of non-working mothers who joined up and ended up with jobs in the local offices of officials they supported. Others want access to the spotlight and hope they’ll be propelled to similar fame, adulation, but without the personal responsibility. I know a few people who parlayed their group leader status into real gigs, mostly touting a corporate agenda far from the progressive agenda they sold group members on whose backs they climbed to the top.

I hope people figure out when they support badly behaving local political leaders that they’re turning out the hacks, cronies, liars, hypocrites, and predators, sexual and otherwise, that turn up in state capitals and in Washington, D.C.

Written by

Lawyer, Teacher, Mediator. Worked on many political campaigns and learned nothing will help until we enforce our laws, particularly laws against corruption.

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