Politicians always speak about a life of public service, as though their work is some form of sacrifice for the greater good, and as such distinct from a “normal” job or career. I would like nothing more than for that to be true, but it is not. Politicians make money doing what they do, just like anybody with a job, and even worse, they make that money straight off of you and me. They also get to play out their own fantasies of running the world on varying levels, again on your dime and mine. So what should be simply chipping in for the greater good becomes a full-on career, complete with climbing the ladder as high as they can go.
I’ve noted a couple of times on this blog that I am opposed to re-election in all forms. The moment it exists as a possibility, it becomes a motivating factor for anything and everything a politician does or says. Even if it were just a minor motivating factor, that would detract from the ability to make decisions that are truly in the best interest of the nation and world. But quite often, it becomes the primary motivating factor, with use of the word “primary” a very intended pun.
It shouldn’t be difficult to imagine why this happens, based on each of our own experiences with human nature. We’ve all felt or seen the desire to maintain power and/or gain more material things. But some of us at least have a regulator on that, and it usually comes in the form of some consideration for the rest of the people in the world. Unfortunately, the less regulated you are, the more successful you will be in politics, which consistently rewards concern for oneself. Those who care only about winning, entirely motivated by their own desires, are generally more likely to win. Politics is the domain of the narcissist.
I could go on and on about the definitions of various terms describing personality disorders – narcissism, sociopathy, psychopathy – but the important point for this moment in time is that all of them involve the placement of self above all else. When you see the world in that light, it frees you from reason, from criticism, and from accountability. You don’t even really need to believe anything, and why would you? Your sole purpose is to feed your own desires, and you only need concern yourself with saying or doing things that contribute to that end.
This is obviously how Donald Trump was raised, and how he has subsequently raised his own children, but he is not alone. Narcissists are everywhere in Washington, in state capitals, and in various instantiations of palaces around the world. This is why it’s not surprising that Josh Hawley was more upset about losing a book deal than about the people who died in the assault on the Capitol, and also why he was the only Senator to vote against hate crime legislation. It is why Ted Cruz kissed the feet of the man who insulted his wife and characterized concern about gun violence as ridiculous theater. It is why Ron Johnson and Marjorie Taylor Greene say just about anything they say. Taking that thought one step further, do any of these people truly believe anything they say? I have my doubts. Belief implies some level of concern about the nature of the world and where it is headed, but narcissists don’t care about the world – they care about themselves.
It is unlikely my vision of a world without re-election will ever come to fruition. But imagine for a moment what it would be like. Everybody gets a chance to do one “public service” job, for one term, and then they’re done, and somebody else can take a crack at it. No more careers in politics funded by taxpayers. Do your part, and then go do something else. This would almost certainly weed most, if not all, of the narcissists of the world out of the picture. They’d have to find some other means of stroking their egos and padding their wallets. Meanwhile, something might actually get done because it’s a good idea, instead of because it’s in the best interest of a paltry few. A Machine can dream.
Donald Trump became a celebrity that could one day run for President with one simple phrase: “You’re fired”. Those should be the words addressed to every politician at the end of their first and only term. I suppose “Thank you for your public service” would work too. Because then that might actually be true.