Tuesday, May 18, 2010

POLLSTERS AND POLLS, BAH, HUMBUG


         REPUBLIC INTO A DEMOCRACY OR THE REIGN OF THE POLLSTERS

In school I learned our government was not a democracy. In a pure democracy every person votes on every issue. Instead we are a republic, or a representational democracy, which means every person can vote to elect leaders or legislators, and these supposedly wiser men are empowered to pass the laws, and make the decisions necessary for running a government. A pure democracy could work only in smaller groups.  When clans gathered together into larger groups, forming towns and states, and technology allowed these groups to have food surpluses, which allowed different people to specialize in different things, some people were in charge of the hunting, some were farming, some became artisans, some soldiers, and some, usually braver, stronger, more experienced became the leaders. At first it was especially to the stronger, who often seized power, which then often became hereditary. We had our centuries of kings and despots, but eventually the demand to return to each person having a say in decisions affecting their lives, led to the idea of everybody voting on who the leaders would be, and then the leaders would vote on what their laws would be. The era of the grand republics was born. Of course I’m simplifying this, but it’s hard to condense centuries into paragraphs.

For the most part this system has worked admirably, as long as one person or group of persons, didn’t seize control, and refuse to relinquish it. If laws were passed that weren’t for the good of the group, the leaders could be voted out, and hopefully better ones put in their place. The world, and the problems each group faces, are constantly changing, which always calls for new tactics and solutions. As long as a society remains flexible, as long as it can continue to change to meet ever-changing challenges, as long as the electorate stays educated, and chooses even wiser people to lead them, they can have the best of governments. The United States was an example, not always perfect, in fact far from perfect, our Civil War an example of what can happen if we lose the path. Eventually we gatheried the strength of all the peoples who make up our diverse country to create one of the most powerful nations to ever exist. But suddenly we are standing on the brink of an era that could change all that.

With the advent of computers, and the revolution in communication technology, the Age of Instant Messaging, we are bombarded with multitudes of daily polls, on the spot analysis of what the pollsters are telling us the ‘Majority” wants. How we can ever believe their validity, when over and over again they are proven to be worthless, I’ll never know, but if our leaders start to make their decisions on the basis of these polls, instead of their own best judgments, we will have lost our republic and reverted to a democracy. I do not think this is in our best interest.

It is one thing to give everyone an equal vote to choose our leadership, hoping the majority can distinguish the dross from the gold. We know this isn’t always true, sometimes good looks and charm can outweigh wisdom and experience, sometimes it seems we even elect the village idiot to run our affairs, but for the most part, the people we elect usually rise to the occasion. And I hope they will continue to make the good judgments they were chosen to make, and not start letting the majority rule on every decision, based on whatever that day’s poll, flawed as it so often is, tells them the people want. Come on leaders, LEAD, that is what we chose you to do. Can you imagine running a household, with the children deciding, by popular vote, what food the family will buy and eat, what days they will go to school, and for how long each day, and what they will study? Can the factory line worker decide how much money a business should borrow to expand its business, or where to build its new factory? After you’ve chosen your doctor, do you try to tell him how to do the operation you may or may not need? Do you poll all your friends and then tell the doctor,” My friends say you must use method A and not B”? I’m taking it to the absurd, but when we have a poll for everything and our leaders become afraid to lead, or do so only on the basis of what the latest poll tells them “the people” want, it is equally absurd. I never hear figures on how many people they based their polls on, where the people came from, and if the numbers were statistically significant? When we are told 42 percent favor this and 44 percent favor that and 14 percent are undecided, it is meaningless. But that was one of the latest polls I heard on this morning’s news.

Enough with the polls and the pollsters! I don’t want them running our government. Even if they were infallible, and always correct, I do not want a return to every person voting on every issue. As people whose jobs lie in other directions, we do not have time to study in depth every issue; that is what we are paying our legislators to do. Even they break the almost overwhelming job into different committee assignments.

We must stay informed as best possible, we mustn’t be afraid to voice our opinions directly to our leaders, but they must still act, using all of their knowledge and not do just what pollsters, or the majority seems to tell them. I want wise people who devote their time to studying each issue in depth, in other words the person I chose to legislate and be a leader, making these decisions. If you agree with me, write your legislator, and tell him, do his job, put on his thinking camp and make decisions on the best information he can find on the issue and not what the man on the street knows about it.



3 comments:

  1. Platitudes that skirt the essential truth! Until we have dynamic election reform involving the financing of campaigns of our legislators at all levels, you are hiding behind "wishing it were so." Corporate power is far less naive in asserting its "wishes", and renders your comments mere well intended pipe dreams!
    bw

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  2. wise old midwestern grandmotherMay 25, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    Dear Anonymous,

    I am so glad to read your comment,even if you didn't agree with me, at least I know I am not just speaking to the wall. I'm not sur I understand what you mean, but that is probably because you are speaking above my head, so I am even more grateful that you would deign to answer me. thank you again.

    Semi-wise old grandmother

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  3. What I am saying to you is: setting up an antagonist such as polls is way off the mark. Polls are a distraction used principally by the press, and in some cases by campaign insiders for evaluating the course they are on, as to the allocation of "bucks." Bucks are the beginning and the end of good (or bad) governance. Our legislators are driven by an availability of money that will aid in their re-election. We have just had a Supreme Court decision that grants corporations "person-hood." Now the coffers are thrown wide open for an unfettered flow of union and corporate money to influence any situation of significance to the public. Do you seriously think polls are influencing votes? Check out the empty finance reform bill that is being reconciled between House and Senate, right now. 75% to 80% of all Americans were for tightening up banking restrictions. We're getting "bupkes!" We need 100% public financing of elections to get to a place where we have a workable republic. Polls be damned! (from a semi-conscious geezer who reads your blog)
    bw

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