Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On the Stupidity of our Politicians

We humans have the capacity to be almost unimaginably stupid.  The causes of human stupidity are, I think, too little studied, and should be given serious consideration.  Our stupidity probably cannot be eradicated, but it may be limited--one likes to think so, in any case.

The recent antics of Representative Bunning add support to a belief I've held for some time--that politicians (by which I mean elected public officials) are especially stupid; that there is something about them, or their office, which radically impairs their intelligence.  This impairment may not be inherent.  It may exist only while they are politicians and while they are running for office, i.e. seeking to become politicians.

Consider Mr. Bunnings' efforts to prevent the issuance of benefits to the jobless in these troubled economic times.  There is no question, I think, that the United States has become a debtor nation to the extent that it is in danger, and it seems to be mere common sense to determine how to fund a bill before its passage (which may be why it is not done, if my speculations regarding the remarkable stupidity of politicians have any basis).  A politician who recognizes this should be applauded, or at least recognized as being sensible, generally speaking.  One cannot help but wonder, though, why Mr. Bunning chose to make this seemingly commonplace observation in connection with this expenditure in particular.  More to the point, one cannot help but wonder why he chose to put himself in the position of preventing this expenditure from taking place, single-handed, to the horror of even his fellow Republicans, thereby making himself and his party appear to be active enemies of the needy.  Why has he not been making this point, and taking such a stand, in connection with the hundreds of expenditures he has been called upon to approve or disapprove in the past?  Why did he chose to do so only with respect to a bill which it is almost insane to oppose?

The only explanation for such conduct, I fear, is that politicians are so stupid that they are incapable of thinking sensibly, or doing something sensible, unless they contrive to do so in the stupidest manner possible.  They are so stupid that they cannot even be intelligent without being, simultaneously and exceedingly, idiotic.

If politicians are extraordinarily stupid by nature, though, we cannot help but wonder why we elect them.  Do we somehow sense their stupidity during the election process, and elect them because they are stupid?  If so, do we do this because we are stupid as well, or is it that we delight in knowing that our political leaders will be at least as stupid as the rest of us or, better yet, even more stupid, perhaps even incredibly stupid?  It is more comforting to think that stupidity is caused by, or is an aspect of, the political office itself.

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