Do we really want to represent us?
“Every politician wants you to believe he was born in a log cabin he built himself.” — Bill Clinton
One of the annoying aspects of American political campaigns (I know, there are many to choose from) is the effort by candidates to portray themselves as regular people, attuned to the hopes and fears of the people who decide who gets elected.
They are motivated by the general feeling that legislators lose touch with their constituents as soon as they fall into the clutches of the special interest groups waiting to pounce in Washington and Sacramento. The situation has degenerated to the point where Congress thinks it’s having a good week when its approval rating tops 30 percent.
So candidates try to convince voters they’re not one of “those people,” that they are just like the rest of us. This does not always go well.
Mitt Romney, a son of privilege who would be the richest man to ever occupy the White House if he wins the election, is totally clueless when it comes to connecting with the common man — and we’re just talking about the 53 percent who might vote for him. He is so inept that he should just quit trying.
Barack Obama, who grew up in a single-parent home with an absent father, has a story more people can relate to. But he managed to graduate from Harvard Law School and got rich writing books about his hard-scrabble upbringing.
He takes off his tie and rolls up his sleeves when he wades into a crowd, but you get the impression he would rather be attending a State Department briefing. It would also help if he quit calling everybody “folks.”
But none of this stops candidates from trying to convince us they are just plain folks, as several campaign signs near my home attest. One of them informs me that Doug LaMalfa “is one of us.” (No he isn’t. He apparently wears a cowboy hat and farms rice; I don’t own a cowboy hat and rarely eat rice.)
Other signs urge me to “send a farmer” (Brian Dahle) to Sacramento and a “conservative rancher” (Jim Nielsen) to the state Senate. (If you are a conservative farmer who takes government subsidies, you can’t complain about entitlement programs you don’t like.)
Do we really want people like us representing our interests in Sacramento and Washington? A closer look at “we the people” should give us pause.
There are millions of people in this country who think reality television shows are real and that it’s important to keep up with the Kardashians. Many others, most of them southerners, will sit in the hot sun all day to see which NASCAR driver is the first to make 800 left-hand turns.
We have people in this country who don’t get enough to eat, but millions of us think light beer is actually beer, a pizza constitutes a meal and that tofu is real food. Apparently any grade of meat that is barbecued with enough sauce on it is considered edible.
About 35 percent of federal spending is financed by debt. Do you think people who bought more house they could afford and held onto stocks they thought would go up forever can fix this problem? More people can recite Lindsay Lohan’s rap sheet than can explain the difference between Obamacare and Romney’s health care proposals.
Many others are easily misled. They think Gov. Rick Perry was actually a serious candidate for president, that trickle-down economics work and that the barons of Wall Street are creating wealth for all of us.
I’m not sure I want these people representing me in Sacramento and Washington. Unfortunately, they may not be any worse than the people holding office now.
George Boardman is a Lake of the Pines resident.
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