I’m sure most of us know the ancient fable about the boy who cried “Wolf!”.
There was a Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. It was lonely for him, so he devised a plan to get a little company. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him. This pleased the boy so much that a few days after he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. Shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest. The boy cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again lying, and nobody came to his aid. So the Wolf made a good meal off the boy’s flock.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
However, he failed to add that if enough politicians raise enough imaginary hobgoblins, sooner or later the electorate stop listening to them. They come to regard every one as yet another example of crying “Wolf!”.
I fear that domestic US politics has now reached that point. Our politicians – on both sides of the aisle – have raised so many alarms, and decried each other so stridently, and postured and pimped themselves and each other to such an extent, that most of us no longer believe them. We regard them all as “swamp creatures” or “political prostitutes”, and want the whole damned lot of them swept away, never to return. Just this weekend, I heard several close friends express the ardent desire to impeach every current politician, bar them from office, and replace them all with “new blood” – with no exceptions. I couldn’t disagree with them, in all honesty.
The current impeachment crisis is a perfect illustration of this. I’m completely open to having any President investigated honestly and impartially for any potentially illegal or criminal activity. That’s Congress’ job, and they should do it. However, when that same Congress has postured, and primped, and jumped up and down and screamed “Wolf” for the past three years, is it any wonder that many of those listening no longer believe its accusations? When an Adam Schiff makes up his allegations out of whole cloth, in front of the camera, and expects them to be believed, why should we give him any credibility at all? And when a Jerrold Nadler abuses his office to impose partisan politics upon what should be an impartial legislative forum, and does so openly and continuously and rampageously, why should we trust him to even give us the correct time of day?
Of course, that’s not confined to Democrats. When Mitch McConnell blocks a Presidential SCOTUS nominee (Merrick Garland) for a blatantly partisan political reason, then turns around and glibly refuses to do the same if a similar situation should arise under a President he favors, it speaks volumes about his hypocrisy. When Republicans in both the House and the Senate point fingers and shout and scream about Democratic Party policies over illegal immigration, and the latter’s failure to pass legislation to solve the problem, they carefully fail to point out that they, too, have consistently, even when they were in control of both Houses, failed to pass legislation to fix the problem. They preferred to “punt” it to future generations whilst blaming their opponents. (As I’ve said many times before, I’m neither Republican nor Democrat, and I distrust both political parties equally. I’ll also point out both parties’ inconsistencies and fraudulent positions, without fear or favor.)
The current impeachment imbroglio has so many unmistakable signs of deliberate, malicious planning, to the point where one can call it a “conspiracy” without exaggeration, that it’s impossible to take it seriously. The basic plan was openly discussed even before President Trump’s inauguration. It’s partisan politics, pure and simple. I don’t trust a word the Democratic Party is saying about it. They’ve lied so consistently to the American people, and cried “Wolf!” so often, that their credibility is shot to pieces. However, the same applies to the Republican Party. Their own actions and words condemn them just as surely, on many other issues. The political mainstream in America has discredited itself, and frankly, I don’t see any way in which it can redeem itself. It’s too far gone. If Congress should impeach President Trump tomorrow, I’d regard it as yet more partisan political posturing, rather than a meaningful, serious attempt to defend American politics. I no longer trust Congress to act rationally, honestly or forthrightly – and that applies to both sides of the aisle, whoever is in power.
For that matter, I expect financial self-interest to corrupt our politicians at least as much as (if not more than) partisan politics. I’d like to see every politician forced to account, in detail, for every cent he or she earns, in any way, while in office. If they can’t explain their income satisfactorily, and prove beyond reasonable doubt that none of it came from legislative shenanigans or the misuse of their political office, then they should lose it. All of it. For a quick (if slightly out-of-date) overview, see “Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives“.
If a new political party were to arise tomorrow, with its only policy proposal being to impose stringent term limits on any and every elected office (I suggest 3 terms for Congressional representatives and 1 term for a Senator, both amounting to a maximum of 6 years in those offices), and kick out every politician who has already exceeded those limits . . . I’d vote for them in a heartbeat. They couldn’t be worse than our present politicians, and at least they’d hold out the hope for a regular infusion of new brooms to clean out the Augean stable that the Capitol has become.
Unless and until that happens, the only thing we can do is to vote for the least damaging option(s) open to us. That’s a pretty poor option, but nothing else is available through the ballot box. The other options are all worse, in the sense that they’d replace the ballot box with something a lot more dangerous and unpredictable.