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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The way we pick our leader is really dumb.


They can talk the talk, there's no doubt about that. Today's politics seems like nothing but an endless bout of untreated logorrhea. Electing our political leaders by popularity is not the absolute worst way I suppose. We could pick our leaders with a lottery for instance. It just seems to me that picking a person to—for instance—be the leader of the free world just because he's articulate and attractive is not the smartest way to run a country. It's almost as though some agency in Hollywood designed our political system.

Are there better ways? Well, let me ask you this, how do you become a medical doctor? Do you prepare high-minded speeches, always have snappy comebacks to any criticism, and finally entice lots of people to agree that you'd be a good doctor? Or, do you study medicine for eight years before you become an apprentice doctor for several years—an intern—then pick a specialization and study that for several more years—medical resident? Total time in preparation is fourteen years or more of training before a doctor is trusted to perform unsupervised medicine.

Please understand that even though the doctor is highly trained to be a doctor he could not take that training and use it to be an engineer or administrator at a nuclear reactor facility on the basis of his medical training. The knowledge required for the three different professions—doctor, engineer, or administrator—is completely different for each profession as well as being highly specialized.

In United States politics there are three branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial. The knowledge and experience and ability required to perform the functions of the three separate branches is absolutely and completely different for each respective branch.

A judge should study constitutional law, case law and precedent. He or she should be a practicing attorney for a number of years before being allowed to decide cases as a judge, and he or she should begin judging in the lower courts for a number of years before being allowed to try cases on a court of appeals. In the normal course of things this is exactly how it's done.

Unfortunately everything starts to break down on the legislative and the executive side. The study of law is of limited use as a legislator and of almost no use at all as an executive. I honestly don't know what students learn in law school, but if I was betting, I'd say that they learn the rules and ethics of trial law. They learn who what where and why lawsuits or criminal proceedings can and should be initiated. They learn how to ensure the conviction of a drunk driver and conversely how to get one off the hook. None of this kind of learning would be of much use in the course of a typical congressional proceeding, nor of any use at all as a government executive.

A politician shakes hands. He smiles. He gives speeches promising all things to all people. He debates other people who do the exact same thing. Everyone listens to the speeches, the debates, looks at their respective records and then makes the decision about which one they trust the most to run things. It sounds to me like it's the best salesman who'll will win almost every time. If I wanted to hire someone to sell my house or my car this is the way I'd want to pick one, but is it the best way to choose the best person to run the country, to enact laws that will affect not only me today but my children tomorrow?

What does a lawyer know about running a country? What does a lawyer know about foreign policy? How does studying law prepare you to understand the forces and factors which drive our national economy? What does a lawyer know about health-care, except the best way to prepare a lawsuit against the people who provide it? Not to put too fine a point on it, how can voting "present" a few times in a couple of years prepare a man to lead the most powerful nation in the history of the world?

In 2008 the nation was swindled by a smooth talking salesmen and a billion dollar ad campaign. Obama is self-evidently unprepared to lead this nation in any facet of its operations. After four years it's painfully clear that he's not just incompetent, he's still completely untrained, inexperienced, and inadequate to the task.

Every four years we hold a giant popularity contest and beauty pageant. We ask the contestants stupid questions and they smile and tell us what they think we want to hear. The way we pick our leader is really dumb. I guess that makes all of us pretty dumb too.

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