on politicians


and bad governance or something.

When we in the global south complain about our politicians, the usual refrain is that we vote them in so we deserve them. This refrain, among other things, ignores electoral manipulation by the political class, use of violence by the incumbent and generally, a political class that is morally bankrupt, bankrupt on ideas and if public choice theorists are correct, are only concerned about their own individual needs and only do something for the general public if they benefit.

Looking at the USA, I can’t seem but recall the ending in George Orwell’s Animal Farm,

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say

and this must be so when they look at their representatives across the political divide. And add tRumpsky’s election to the mix, it is all interesting and so we in the global south must ask, why does it seem that to most Americans, the salvation lies with one man, Robert Mueller, whose work seems everyday to hang on the balance.

So, while I agree wholly, that systems are important, these systems have been overrun by lobbyists, special interest groups, big money and there is need therefore to rethink the whole system and find ways to address these gaps or whatever is left in democracy will be gone through the window.

Maybe I am not making sense.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

81 thoughts on “on politicians

  1. johnfaupel says:

    The authoritative effect of being in control creates a subservient effect of being controlled. This contrived way of polarising people at all levels within societies may have had its distant origins in a divine, all powerful creator [and hence ‘the divine right of kings’ and all that crap] but in pre-neolithic times meant only respect for the wisest and usually therefore the oldest member of egalitarian communities everywhere. Now it’s replaced by a general acceptance of ‘democracy’ which George Orwell [and Nietzsch et al before him] saw as accepting ‘big brother’ and a ‘master-slave’ morality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      What do you think is the way out?

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        Why do you assume there is a way out?

        Too many people seem to follow the fallacy that it is the elites, the sociopaths, the leaders who are to blame. Yet, these leaders are generated by so many advanced human societies. And, when the little people get “power”, it is amazing how nasty we become. Maybe the problem is not “politicians” Maybe the problem is….people.

        “I think human consciousness, is a tragic misstep in evolution. We became too self-aware, nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself, we are creatures that should not exist by natural law. We are things that labor under the illusion of having a self; an accretion of sensory, experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody is nobody. Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal.” -True Detective (American television show).

        Liked by 1 person

        • makagutu says:

          Maybe the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal

          I think this is the argument of some of the antinatalists. Or rather we should stop reproducing till those presently alive all die out.

          Problem is definitely the people. Or rather how behave people when they have some power.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. maryplumbago says:

    Your post is right on! I’m afraid apathy is the true killer in the US of any thought of changing our system.

    Almost half the people don’t vote. Civics is no longer taught and history is taught in a boring way, rather than insightful. The youth live in a world of texting and snap chatting. Our education,in general, is poor and that system is broken. Most people find politics boring and pay no attention to the change coming. And the religious right is taking over in many areas, not just politics, to ensure American Sharia law.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Swarn Gill says:

      Can you blame one for having apathy? As you say, Mak’s post IS right on. If we literally are being given the choice between the lesser of two evils (and I’m not saying Hillary was that, although I think she represented the unhealthy strand of neo-liberalism that has been overrunning western democracies), but I don’t think it’s hard to see why people might be apathetic. While I certainly don’t see Trump as the solution, it’s clear that a lot of the reason why he ended up winning has to do with people desperate to buck an establishment. Unfortunately they chose a person who is part of the upper class who is the reason why we have shitty choices to choose from when it comes to politicians.

      I am not saying one shouldn’t still vote, but the way the established parties shut down candidates who don’t conform to the party mold, the way they can always outspend anybody who is trying to come from a grass roots type position in the past is strongly evidenced. Social media is largely the reason why Bernie Sanders was so successful, but in the end even he fell to the amount of money that was raised against him and which was used to buy the hearts of so many democratic leaders. Now it’s fine if one didn’t agree with Bernie Sanders, but this is the fate of any honest politician, and Bernie Sanders, like him or not is at least an honest and true public servant. What an elected official should be. And he was only able to get as far as he was because he ran under the democratic ticket. Imagine if he had run as an independent? And I remember so many people who were pro-Hillary and knocked Sanders simply because he wasn’t a lifelong democrat. He didn’t deserve to fill that top seat as a democrat, because he hadn’t paid his dues with the democratic party. Didn’t matter about his ideas, or his character…he just wasn’t “establishment enough”. The establishment has become poison, and unfortunately the only freedom from this establishment people hung on to was from the person who could exploit their anger and fear while giving them false hope. A charlatan in every sense of the word.

      I am not saying apathy is a good thing, but I think it’s at least understandable why we might have it here. To be an elected official in this country you need to either be independently wealthy, or you need to join one of the established parties and you need to fundraise a certain amount of money before the established party will even take you seriously. Money is the primary part of your resume. Everything else comes second. To be invested in from the start you need to already have status.

      Liked by 3 people

      • maryplumbago says:

        Very valid points…so what it the answer and is Brazil a preview of things to come, not only here, but worldwide?

        Liked by 4 people

        • Swarn Gill says:

          I’m still working on the answer to that one. 🙂 Not to sound like a libertarian but I think we need to stop thinking that government can solve all of our problems. By this I mean that if want people’s lives to be better than we just have to start by doing something ourselves. If the politicians of the day don’t interest you, it doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer, work for a non-profit, and instead of focusing on national politics, a real grass roots movement has to start small and move upwards. The internet gives us the tools to do a lot of large scale organizing cheaply. If there IS a better way of doing things, then people have to see it in action to support it. This is best done small before we try to elevate a president to messiah status to fix all our problems. The country is too big and too diverse to fix it all with any national legislation. The one good thing about the last election is that we have more women, and more scientists running for office. We need to have more diverse representation in government as well.

          I was listening to a podcast interview with this guy Andrew Yang who is running for president (He’s independent) and is supporting Universal Basic Income. That aside, he says the one thing government is very good at it is writing checks. They are good at throwing money at problems, but not really thinking too hard about the best way to go about it, so good people need to get involved, not only in government, but also solving problem and showing that progressive approaches to helping people actually do work better.

          There are people who need to fight against the Trump’s of the world, but sometimes I feel like we spend too much time getting angry at our politicians, and it’s not clear they really care about us. Yes we still have to pay attention to politics, but sometimes I think we pay too much attention to it when our time could be better spent. No solid scholarship behind this, just my feeling.

          Liked by 2 people

          • makagutu says:

            The government sometimes does cause most of the problems it is trying to solve. It is usually led sometimes by people who are not imaginative or if they were in their other occupations, they don’t care anymore. Then there is the issue of private interests. This is where lobby groups come in and because they are well organized and well funded, they may get things done that are not good for the general public

            Liked by 1 person

            • Swarn Gill says:

              I think politicians for the most part are very much like administrators at the university. Most people who become administrators simply weren’t very good teachers. Partly also because teachers who are good at what they do also really enjoy what they do and don’t want to stop teaching. People think more scientists should become politicians, but the problem is the same, because people who really like scientists want to keep doing science. It seems by its very nature politics is going to attract people either with little talent, or who want power, or both.

              Like

              • makagutu says:

                You are right. Good scientists, teachers and even doctors most of the time end up as sycophants or very clueless representatives

                Liked by 1 person

                • Swarn Gill says:

                  Well my point is that the good ones don’t leave what they already do well and rail against those in power. Most of the good scientists and teachers that I know will never stop doing what they are doing, even though they might be very effective politicians. But being an honest politicians is a hard road, and one such people don’t feel they are suited for. And it’s probably true that not all of them are. Sometimes the best players in a sport make very bad coaches…but at the same time if we’re looking for people to lead us who are good critical thinkers and have empathy for people a great teacher could make a very good administrator, and a great scientist could make a very good politician.

                  Like

                  • makagutu says:

                    I don’t think I disagree.
                    In a house of parliament with majority crooks, one sane voice hardly gets heard. I have seen men and women who were so critical of previous government do become quiet once the side they were supporting captures power.

                    Liked by 1 person

      • Nan says:

        I am not saying apathy is a good thing, but I think it’s at least understandable why we might have it here.

        I tend to agree. Before I got interested in the political scene, voting was not a priority. If there were some particular issue that grabbed my attention, I might go to the polls.

        I think many people operate under the impression their vote doesn’t really count. And especially if they aren’t gung-ho for the person? “Meh! Who cares?”

        Liked by 2 people

        • “..think many people operate under the impression their vote doesn’t really count. And especially if they aren’t gung-ho for the person? “Meh! Who cares?” Not Trump supporters. They KNOW their vote counts AND they vote. Ask them. “Do you think your vote is important?” They’ll give you a sound, “Hell yes!” Thus, they win. They vote in every election small or large. Every. Single. Election. This is how a minority of people now pretty much control every aspect of our gov’t. If only people who didn’t like the direction our country’s going in had the passion, the energy, and the will to vote as those who do. What might our country be then? Hard to tell now, because with Trump and McConnell now having the Supreme Court in their tool box to rubber stamp EVERYTHING they want, I think the days of American democracy will get farther and farther behind us until they fade into an orange dream. I STILL have friends who hate what’s going on say, “My vote doesn’t matter or it’s not important.” Voting is important to Trump, McConnell, Brett Kavanaugh and the 34% of Americans who love them. Very, very dark times are coming. World wide and here in America.

          Liked by 4 people

          • maryplumbago says:

            Exactly

            Liked by 1 person

          • Swarn Gill says:

            But there were Trump voters who voted for Obama in the previous election even. I take your point though. However, I think you also have to look at how well the Republicans have been doing in gerrymandering districts, voter suppression, and just good old general fear-mongering. And there are many states where the dominance of Republicans is so strong, a democratic vote doesn’t matter much, and that’s even if someone is actually running for a democratic seat. In the south so many of those people run unopposed.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Actually, I was too specific with this comment. Ask Republicans, not necessarily tRump voters, whether or not their vote matters, and you’ll get a resounding, “YES!” The Republicans vote in every election, every time. This has been going on LONG before tRump. Republicans have 38 out of 50 US governorships; have run both houses of congress for almost ten years, have been winning in state and city elections for at least a decade–consistently and overwhelmingly, and now they have the Presidency, the Supreme Court and very shortly the Justice Dept. They vote; they’re consistent, and they get behind their candidates no matter how vile or disgusting they are, i.e. Roy Moore. They win because they remain focused and they know their vote is powerful, especially when Democrats, Independents and “I don’t know’s” rarely vote–particularly in midterms, like the one the Republicans are about to win Nov. 6th. Voting matters. Really, it does, just ask the next Brett Kavanaugh groupie you bump into. “Hey, groupie, does it matter that Republicans have been voting, winning, and controlling Congress for the past decade?” I already know the answer you’ll get. Sadly, this message has not gotten to enough people who dislike that state of America, and, sadly, it is most probably now too late for it matter, for real.

              Liked by 1 person

            • (First part of my message got cut off. Here it is.) Very true, and that’s true because of long-term, consistent voting. At this point, the Repukes control so much, it may very well be no votes but there’s will ever count again. However, you know what? They’ll still vote.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Swarn Gill says:

                It’s not completely clear to me though that it’s just liberals that don’t vote. I think there is a strong democratic base just as there is a Republican one. And the democrats did win the popular vote. One of the great things Obama did when you look back at his re-elections is organization. His campaign actually helped bus people who were poor and couldn’t easily get to the polls. It’s true of course that if more young people got to the polls it would have been an easy win for Hillary. The young people were super excited about Bernie Sanders, and sadly they didn’t keep their composure to do the sensible thing and vote for Hillary in the end. But convincing young people that politics is important is difficult. I was very much like that between 18-25. I think my mom cared about politics to a certain degree, but didn’t talk about it much. My dad was sort of the “they are all crooks” type of person and never voted. So that wasn’t exactly the best upbringing. It took some time to forget that cynicism before getting into politics, but I have to say after wading in it now for the past 18 years or so, I can understand why one can get cynical. And not just about politicians themselves but about voters also. The fact that there are so many people in this country that will vote Republican solely on the issue of abortion disturbs me. I think the bigger problem is just the complete ignorance on so many issues by voters, that I have little confidence that more people to the polls will simply be the answer.

                All the talk now is that for the Dems to beat Trump we need a Trump like figure to win. Someone who is loud and insulting and willing to go toe-to-toe with Trump, the way he plays the game. And they may be right, but I am not sure that anybody is winning. I am sure it will be better than Trump, just as Hillary was obviously better than Trump, but the way this will change the texture of why people vote and how knowledgeable they need to be about this issues concerns me greatly.

                All I’m saying is I get the cynicism and apathy. I don’t think giving into them is the solution. We need hope with substance and I have no idea where that will come from.

                Liked by 2 people

                • makagutu says:

                  Is there any candidate from the democratic side that has a coherent message that can inspire people and get them to vote. It must go beyond saying trump this or that

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • Swarn Gill says:

                    Not from what I’ve seen. I think it needs to be a relatively young female candidate. Someone with little history to attack, but is well known enough among democrats and progressives to gain traction. There are a couple of candidates like that…like Kamala Harris, or Kirsten Gillibrand. Harris is the only one so far that is most likely to run. I think Harris is the better leader overall. But I don’t know if either of them represent the kind of change we need in government right now. So I wouldn’t say either is overly inspirational, but I think young strong female vs. old sexist white male is probably the best shot we have. That’s just my opinion.

                    Like

          • makagutu says:

            This is so spot on.

            Like

      • makagutu says:

        Money is the primary part of your resume. Everything else comes second. To be invested in from the start you need to already have status.

        This is the case here too, except for a very few people who were independents but as soon as they got elected, they joined the president’s party. It is not about convictions or ideas other than what can i get from this post

        Liked by 1 person

        • Swarn Gill says:

          Even if we ignore the fact that power corrupts and assume that those who are independent and idealistic maintain their convictions…I think there is this mistaken notion that to get what you want done you have to play the game of politics. One things, well if I align with these people, I can scratch their backs so they can scratch mine, or I can elevate my status so I can get into a position where I can affect greater change. But those who are corrupted by money or power will never willingly given it up, have no compunctions about stabbing you in the back, and just most likely you will have played their game so long that by the time they leave you don’t know of any other way to play the game. Real political courage is standing up for what is right, even when it doesn’t get you re-elected. It’s not biding your time, until the time is right. When there is injustice, the time is always “right now”. No waiting necessary. Whatever power you think you can gain by biding your time will never get to you until it’s far too late.

          Like

          • makagutu says:

            I can’t disagree with you on this. There is some change each of us can effect from where we are. But for large groups of the population who are mostly marginalised, a lot ought to be done to help them organise politically

            Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      Many people I know here have said they will not vote any more because it doesn’t seem to matter. I think it is Stalin who said it is not the person who votes that counts, it is the person who counts the vote. But now this has been worsened by AI where you can manipulate the system to cast votes. And or, especially for us, control the system if you are the incumbent.
      It is because civics is taught badly or not at all that people think politics is simply about the vote. SO they don’t vote but then they get fucked over for the entire term of the parliament/ congress

      Liked by 1 person

  3. john zande says:

    Spare a thought for us. I’ll just let John Oliver explain

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Swarn Gill says:

    I agree with your assessment. It’s not a democracy right now. It’s an oligarchy.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Spot on post, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      We need to re-evaluate the political systems and find a way that those elected are really representatives of the people and not a just money interests

      Liked by 1 person

      • basenjibrian says:

        But who are “the people”. Is there such a thing? There is no unified “people” for whom all policies work. Assuming such is the path of fascism. Totalitarian dictators certainly claim to represent “the people”. Or “the nation”. Or “God’s Way”. But is that a path you want to follow?

        For example….everyone on the “left” loves STRONG UNIONS. Support “the working class”!!!! Well, in the United States, strong unions largely remain in the public sector. For example…teachers’ unions are in the news. Strong teachers’ unions means more money for salaries. Which is certainly a good thing. But that means more government spending. And there are always competing demands for government spending. How does “support the people” help in this decision? More TAXES. Which “hurts” the little people. The middle class taxpayers. Or so we are told.

        We have to beware mythologizing “the people” the “common man”. There is no such thing. There are always interest groups. Human society and politics is based on interest groups. Eternal conflict. Chaos even. Trade-offs.

        That does not mean we give up (although, with the realities of climate change, that is the most realistic approach). But it is completely irrational to expect that interest groups directly affected by government spending, regulations, and other actions to just sit back as neutral observers. Teachers’ Unions certainly did not. Besides, given the specialization in modern society, it is often these various nefarious interest groups that have the skills, the knowledge, to understand public policy choices, Even if THEIR position is self-interested.

        Magical thinking is a problem even for atheists and liberals.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          You are right on the critique of who forms the people. Those who have attempted to answer this question have said many things. Fidel Castro in talking about the people talked about the labourers, the teachers, nurses, the employed and do on who would benefit if the revolution were a success. Paulo Frere assumes that who the people are is obvious. Jose Marti does not define who they are and assumes they are known to the reader. So yes, there is a question that need to be answered on who they are and whether this reference is proper.

          There are interest groups, no doubt. And usually those interest groups that are well organised and well financed get their way. The poor generally are not able to do this.

          The point about unions is an interesting one. Without worker unions, most of the workers are exploited, exposed to inhumane working conditions. How do we approach this issue?

          Like

          • basenjibrian says:

            But you illustrate the problem. I hate to keep harping on this, nut “Democratic Kampuchea” and “Cultural Revolution” China are tow recent examples of what happens when failed intellectuals (Pol Pot was not a good student) think they can answer this question. Teachers had education and were demonized (and killed) as class enemies. The interests of “laborers” and “teachers” are not the same.

            Teachers were certainly not doing well in Red State America. I don’t want to denigrate their efforts. But….at the same time, “more money for salaries” has to come from somewhere.

            Like

            • makagutu says:

              How do we ensure people are paid a fair salary? A fair salary must be above living wage. One who lives from hand to mouth is almost poor by whatever standard you use.

              Like

  6. maryplumbago says:

    If most people, especially minorities, had voted in 2016, I bet trump would not be president and Kavanaugh would not be a judge and much of this divisiveness would not be as strong and hateful.

    But having said that…it was probably still there .. just waiting for another time…another trump.

    The three Rs..Racism, Religious extremism and Righteous greed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Eric Alagan says:

    Politicians, priests, and purse-snatchers (aka bankers) – the scum of the earth.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. renudepride says:

    The current holder of that office wasn’t elected by the majority of the electorate here. Ms. Clinton won the popular vote but the Electoral College, an archaic relic of the days of slavery here, decided the fate of the election. And the clueless American populace has been “brainwashed” into accepting the outcome as legal and just. That’s the reason the posters on the walls of both my lecture room and office deliver the message: NOT MY PRESIDENT.” Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. basenjibrian says:

    I hear Portugal is very nice. And not as crazy as Italy. 🙂

    Like

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