Monday, August 23, 2010

Can't we all just get along?

Dr. Pissy and I have shared an office for 11 years. We joke, bitch, whine, and try to make the most of our bizarre days as we work through the schedule. Day in and day out. 11 years now.

And guess what? We're on opposite sides of the political fence.

And we discuss health care, and politics, and war, and peace, and all kinds of other stuff. And we've never had an unfriendly moment doing it. Sometimes we come up with ideas that might actually work, and be an acceptable compromise. Sometimes we don't.

I'm not saying we should be in charge of anything. I mean, hell, what do we know? Maybe our ideas wouldn't work.

What I want to know is why politicians end up as the jerk-offs they often are. They must start out like us, at some point. On both sides of the aisle. Willing to talk and work things out. I mean, most of them are married, so should be used to the negotiations and compromise of REALLY complex human relationships.

So why is it that, as soon as someone actually gets elected, they revert to a preschool level of immaturity? Instead of trying to work things out, all they can do is scream, pout, and point fingers at the other children (who do the same back at them).

Every government in history has been founded on the idea of compromise. Every marriage, friendship, business, and child-raising depends on it to work out differences. So where the hell did it go in the modern government?

Is this kind of idiocy and inability to work together really something that anyone sees as being good? People refuse to work together, and then run for re-election on that idea- that they acted like a child (except I think politicians like to call it "standing up for my principles").

I suspect part of the problem is vitriolic idiots from both sides on cable news, who aren't running for office (and therefore have nothing to lose), spewing idealistic shit that may sound good to their audiences, but in reality won't work. And any politician who actually tries to work out a problem reasonably gets chewed out by these clowns as being weak and worthless.

I think all these political types need to go back to the sandbox, and re-learn basic playground etiquette: Be polite, wait your turn, share, make friends, treat others as you'd like to be treated, and WORK IT OUT.

Most governments were founded on the idea of negotiation and compromise. So why is it considered better now to just scream, pout, and do absolutely nothing? Or (my pet peeve) putting pissy little issues at the forefront to distract attention from the fact that they aren't trying to actually solve anything. It's easy to scream, but a lot harder to actually work out a solution. I don't think any of us are paying you guys to be petulant crybabies.

As you guys know, the Grumpy family likes cruise vacations. The crews on these ships are a remarkable polyglot of races, nationalities, and cultures. And they work very well together, BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO. If not, the passengers are unhappy, or the ship breaks, and they all get fired (at the minimum). So why the hell can't our elected representatives (who get paid A LOT more)?

Screaming and yelling may get you favor with whatever local groups whose ass you're kissing, but isn't in the best interests of any group as a whole. No matter what country you live in, or what side you're on.

38 comments:

thegooddrlaura said...

Correctamundo.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. Completely agree!

Anonymous said...

Just exactly when TV News became entertainment for the gullible would be a good research project. Now it seems that the politicians are trying to please a few over-the-top blabbing heads that the people who elected them. Being an idiot isn't protected by the First Amendment.

Sandra said...

What really gets my goat is when they vote for anything their party espouses and against anything any other group puts forth.

The Mother said...

To get along we would all have to admit that someone else might actually have a valid point. Or at least a valid point of view. Which means that your own worldview might actually be wrong, or at least not always correct.

Challenging someone's worldview turns out to be dangerous to their little psyches. It takes a big person to be able to deal with that.

Old MD Girl said...

Most governments were ACTUALLY founded on the premise that I have bigger guns, therefore you have to do what I say. Democracy is the exception rather than the rule in the history of the world, sad to say.

But otherwise I agree completely.

Anonymous said...

The repercussions of not being able to work things out are more consequential than sand in the eyes, but politicians keep going at it, as if that is all that is the worst of it. The ceaseless babblefest that currently goes on seems a waste of valuable time and resources.

Shall we come up with a slogan like the '60s? Keep on truckin' or some such e.g. politico babbling bobbleheads?

Grumpy, M.D. said...

OMDG- a very valid point. Thank you.

Diana said...

Once someone is elected it is mandatory they drink this special Kool-Aid before actually assuming office.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we all just get along? Well, we are. We're bickering and fighting in the courts and in the legislatures. We're not fighting each other in the streets with guns and pipe bombs. We've all agreed to a framework--we adhere to the rule of law. We work as hard as we can within that framework. Except for a few members of our society (none of them politicians), we don't cross that line. I consider that getting along. Many societies would be awash in violence; we've managed to avoid that.

If John McCain musters up an army and starts fighting for his beliefs instead of bickering with other Senators and politicians, then maybe we have a problem. Until then, all we have are people with principles and convictions who are working within a system that is designed to accommodate lots of talk, rhetoric, and political posturing. All that stuff keeps us from turning to violence.

Eileen said...

There is a terror in the UK relating to the "hung parliament", where no one party has an absolute majority. There is such a situation currently and we have a coalition government - the last one was during the war when such a thing was seen to be essential. Many other European countries have run quite well on a continuing basis with such alliances, in particular, let's mention Germany which has been very successful economically over the last 50 years.

But what is happening in the UK - the media are desperately trying to find something to cause trouble. One approach has been to tell us that "all" Lib-Dems are upset at what has been agreed between the alliance. No-one seems to have noticed that one of the Lib-Dems main policies is that supporting proportional representation - a form of democracy that is very likely to create a "hung parliament" and so encourage an alliance to be formed between one or more parties! The Lib-Dems have currently achieved that and are attempting - I believe - to produce the best thing that is likely to come from this: government for the people which does not ignore the desires of many (possibly even a majority) and which is likely to smooth out some of the more extreme policies that appear when there are only two diametrically opposing viewpoints (i.e. political parties).

But that, it seems, doesn't make for exciting journalism. I've heard so much rubbish spouted since May that I despair of my fellow countrymen. Or maybe that should be "I despair even more...".

As for some members of the party that was left out of the party (so to speak) - just because one of their former members has accepted a job with the current incumbents (one he knows more about than anyone else due to previous experience) he is being subjected to some pretty vitriolic comment from his former colleagues rather than being told "good on you mate, you show them how it's done". Which to me would seem more appropriate. Is it maybe jealousy?

Frantic Pharmacist said...

VERY well said. I often take 'news' vacations because I just can't stand listening to the nonsense anymore. I used to think that a congressman or senator had to be knowledgable, articulate and very well accomplished to reach such a position. No more. Our government really is 'broken.' All anyone needs to do is be interviewed by sympathetic news organizations, spew bumper-sticker slogans, use the fear factor and keep pushing the wedge issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) that have nothing to do with governing.
Do those things, and cable news will promote you as a serious 'presidential contender.' Makes me sick !!!

Anonymous said...

So you and Dr. Pissy are on opposite sides of the political fence, huh? I really hope you are on the "right" (wing) side of that fence.

ERP said...

Look at that idiot Ben Quayle. Can he say or do anything that is not some juvenile attack? Well, his Dad had 4+ MR so I guess the apple does not fall too far from the tree.
Still, I get it that in order to drum up voter rage, etc you have to be all fire and brimstone. Compromise is totally boring to the uneducated, simplistic voter mass.
Sorry, ironically that was kind of a rant anyway....

Anonymous said...

@ERP - what does 4+ MR mean?

Captain Foulenough said...

Many excellent comments here... here's some more despairing blather: The problem with politicians is how they combine the dark side of human nature with the fact that we've (and no, I'm not quite sure who the 'we' is here) managed to invent a creature called the "career politician." These creatures may set out with starry eyes and good intentions, but the legislative/executive milieu and the political process interact to corrupt them--not absolutely, but certainly inevitably. The notion of the "citizen representative," someone who serves for a few years and then goes back to the farm/business/whatever, died a swift death, and what replaced it is... hacks. Just keeping the Job, that sweet, high-paying, power-laden job, becomes the prime directive. Add to that the ability to vote yourself your own compensation (!!), the perpetuation of the tarradiddle about the need to 'keep seasoned, experienced public servants in office,' and add a generous, greasy topping of special interests/lobbyists and their Really Big Bucks, and you get...what we've got now. On both sides of the aisle, and in every state capital and beyond. TL:DR -- "Public Servants," my ass.

JTN said...

As someone who researches politics professionally, most politicians are type A raging egomaniacs.

Rob said...

Remember two words -- JOB SECURITY. If I am your elected representative, and you don't like how the government is being run, you are going to fire me, no matter how nice and polite I am... UNLESS I can convince you that the "other guy" is even worse than I am. So Job Security dictates that I'll spend most of my time in office making you fear the opposition.

Term limits won't really help this problem, either. They'll just force me to always be interviewing for the next job. This means that party loyalty is more important than ever, since I won't always be able to campaign on the strength of incumbency.

Anonymous said...

Q: "So why is it that, as soon as someone actually gets elected, they revert to a preschool level of immaturity?"

A: "Screaming and yelling may get you favor with whatever local groups whose ass you're kissing"

Anonymous said...

I just made my first ever contribution to a politician, Al Franken, simply because he stood up in public and said that everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion or philosophy, but no one is entitled to make up their own facts. I don't live anywhere near his state but I don't care. He's smart, he's always prepared and he is more concerned about protecting the public than getting re-elected. It's not about the party, it's about the character of the person.He's worth watching regardless of your party ties.

Anonymous said...

I think what it all boils down to is that a lot of people do not know how to properly carry out a debate or know what to do when they are at a stalemate with the opposing side. They are also not as in control of their emotions as they might think.

By the way, some of those talking head shows are toxic. They slowly brainwashed my (now ex) fiance and were even affecting me. He HAD to watch them EVERY weeknight. Dumping me and taking his crazy views with him was the best thing he did for me.

WV: Cokedira

JoAnna said...

I subscribe to the Douglas Adams view of politics:

"Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President [or Senator, or whatever] should on no account be allowed to do the job."

Classof65 said...

All of you are right on-track -- unfortunately we accept all of this because:
a)we're too busy trying to make ends meet without involving ourselves in trying to fix the current situation;or
b)we are working 60 hours a week to keep our jobs;or
c)we're out of work and desperately trying to find work:or
d)we hope the politicos will finally discover that we're not as stupid as they think we are and will clean up their acts;or
e)someone (NOT the tea partiers)will start a revolution that will stop all the corruption and bribery; or
f)all of the above...

And we haven't even touched on the Supreme Court's decision that corporations are people!

It's maddenly frustrating. We point our fingers at the corruption in foreign governments and yet it's okay for our legislators to take bribes from everyone to ensure their re-election ad infinitum. The caliber of individuals running for office is low -- they're all weasels! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!

Anonymous said...

for the most part politicians these days are only interested in getting relected therefore they spout what they believe their electorate wants to hear. the days of having the interest of their country's (state etc)future at heart are gone. short term popular fixes are in mode. no pain no gain is definitely out. it is the era of the political animal and the demise of the statesman.
a pox on all their houses.

Anonymous said...

well put grumpy. excellent thread. i agree with those who are more amazed that we do it as well as we do. even the periclean athenians could not get it right. as omdg and mao point out, usually all poweer comes from the barrel of a gun.

terri c said...

Good points in the post and comments. It IS depressing!

ERP said...

"4+" mean the maximum as in 4+ pitting edema.
MR is Mental Retardation.

Anonymous said...

I usually chalk it up to the fact that humans are kinda dumb in large groups. That seems to be when our worst traits fight their way up to the surface. Plus historically hasn't it been shown that the easiest way to control a large initially diverse group of people has been to make them angry and/or afraid?

Eileen said...

Mind you guys - you think your lot are bad but look what they have here in Italy! Berlusconi is mind-boggling at times - heck, what do I mean at times? All the time! I've not come across any other politician who decided to have skin-peeling done covered by the excuse someone attacked him with a model of a cathedral! Look at the before and after pictures from last Christmas for evidence. He blatantly changes the law to suit his latest delict so he can't be prosecuted. And still the ordinary man (and woman) in the street votes for him. They're just beginning to realise though...

POOHPA said...

Well said my friend

The Redheaded Pharmacist said...

Very well said Dr. Grumpy. I too take "news vacations" like Frantic mentioned because I just am so frustrated with poilitics and I don't want to learn about all of the latest wars/murders/robberies etc. in my area and across the country and the world. The news is too depressing!

If you and Dr. Pissy are actually are able to discuss ideas and work out solutions to problems instead of finger pointing and bickering among yourselves then you just aren't politician material lol. To really prepare yourself for office you must constantly belittle the other side of the political isle and be sure to overspend like drunken sailors when you do actually get elected. That seems to be the other key to being a good politician: spending a shitload of money that doesn't actually exist to be spent in the first place!

Jules said...

So you and Dr. Pissy are on opposite sides of the political fence, huh? I really hope you are on the "right" (wing) side of that fence.

Well done anon. You're exactly what Dr Grumpy is referring to.

Old MD Girl- actually, the US is a constitutional republic, not a democracy.

Anonymous said...

With you 100% here. Classic rant! Right on the money!
(Can we settle our differences on other points while we build some sand-castles?)

Anonymous said...

Because many politicians are old enough to have forgotten about, and the rest are too young to have learned about Henry Clay, "The Great Compromiser".

(Disclaimer: Mr Sawyer, my high school US history teacher, excelled in his profession. However, I respectfully invoke my 5th Amendment rights WRT when I was in high school.)

WV: ethenge - the illness experienced after bad anesthesia.

quixote said...

Screaming and yelling ... isn't in the best interests of any group as a whole.

No. But they're not elected by any group as a whole.

And the thing that gets them "hired" and rehired is how effective they are at campaigning, not what they do after election. Nobody pays attention to that. So we've got professional campaigners, not professional legislators.

"Campaign" originally referred to military action. A quiet, deliberative military action with a solution reached by compromise wouldn't be much of a victory, now would it?

jdcroft2001d said...

I would only argue that most governments weren't founded on the idea of negotiation and compromise.

Learned Hand said...

My degree is political science and I think I can give you some insight into your question of why politicians act in such a polarized fashion.

The main reason is that as a society we have increasingly sorted ourselves political beliefs. We do this because of confirmation bias in our information seeking. We gather news from sources we're more likely to agree with & associate mainly with people we agree with. More importantly though, we have sorted ourselves geographically. States are known as liberal or conservative. Liberals tend to move to liberal states and conservatives to conservative states. The same is true for cities, and for neighborhoods within cities.

Every city has areas that are known as conservative or liberal parts. This sorting has a number of effects. One of them is that when people only interact with people with similar beliefs, as a group they tend to move farther in the direction of their shared beliefs. Conservative groups get more conservative, liberal groups get more liberal. Another effect is that in these areas the most radical members tend to become the leaders. A conservative leader is likely to be more conservative than his followers, & a liberal leader more liberal.

The other significant effect of the "great sort" is that once people have divided themselves geographically it's easy to build political districts that have predictable partisan results. Politicians love nothing more than a safe district. They are also the ones who draw district boundaries.

Once a district is a "safe" partisan district, the politician who represents it has an incentive to pay attention only to the party controlling it. For the reasons mentioned above, the district as a whole is likely to tend toward more extreme positions as a result of being homogenous, & the politician is likely to be more conservative or liberal than the average resident.

Once you get these people together, they're unlikely to like the other side much, and the politicians themselves aren't going to be used to dealing with people who have opposite opinions. They're a product of very homogenous districts where everyone agrees with each other and competes to get farther from the political center.

The great sorting also applies to the political parties. Liberal Republicans used to exist. They don't anymore. Conservative Democrats used to be a major power in the party. They still exist, but have are on the threatened, if not the endangered list. This has lessened the perceived need for cooperation as it used to be that politicians would have a party, but still need to represent people on both sides of the divide. This is much less true than before, and basically not true of Republicans.

There are political science studies showing that members of one party want more compromise (Grumpy's) than the other (Pissy's). There are social science studies showing one party's members are more committed to consuming only partisan news (Pissy's) compared to the other which is more likely to consume a wider variety of news (Grumpy's). Not to say that either is free of confirmation bias- we all are subject to it. My assignment of you and Pissy to political parties is my best guess based on what I have read here. I could be wrong.

What you are doing with Pissy is the antidote. Continued contact with people from the other side of the poltical fence causes people to stay closer to the poltical center and be more open both to compromise and to seeing the opposite view. It's the force that works against all that I wrote above. If you want a less polarized country, continued discussions of the type you have with Pissy is the way to achieve it.

Jenn said...

Thank you.

 
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