Voter Beware—Of What You Wish For

—The British voted to leave the European Union against their own interests. California voters adopted a three-strikes-you’re-out proposition, followed by others to correct it. The Republican Party allowed itself to be hijacked by a demagogue. That’s what an uninformed public does.

As followers of government, we have long opposed the idea of voter initiatives as a ridiculous and potentially dangero—us way of governing in a democracy.

Alexander Hamilton and the other framers of the U.S. Constitution thought so as well. That is why the created, not a purely democratic form of government in which every citizen has a direct vote on all policy decisions. Even then, 240 years ago, such a system was seen as frought with many more dangers than just being too cumbersome.

As Hamilton wrote in the first Federalist Paper, the restrictive representative government they designed in the Constitution frees the national government from the influences of a demagogue who could prey on the prejudices of an uninformed public and have it vote against its own interests.

The British vote to have the country leave the European Union was a perfect example of a largely ignorant, xenophobic and racist electorate persuaded to metaphorically slit their own throats. Within 24 hours, the reality of the move hit home and voters wanted a redo.

 Voter initiatives have done some similarly crazy things throughout the U.S., even on the island of Maui, Hawaii. One actually voted to outlaw an entire science, genetically modified organisms because Monsanto was using them to create crops resistant to its own pesticide. The target was worth, the ammo was overkill.

We have a representative government we rely on to be informed and make decisions on our behalf, regardless of how badly we go about doing so—too often electing not leaders, but followers who read polls and parrot what voters want to hear.

It is the elected government’s job to make choices for us based on months of gathering information, hearing testimony and shunting the work to endless committees and subcommittees, all of it slow and cumbersome, but in the end it supposedly makes an informed decision.


Trump Would Ban Immigrant Steve Jobs

—One problem of racism, xenophobia, nativism and all the other phobias represented by Donald Trump and his incredibly ignorant followers is the incredible, yet unknown damage their views would cause America.

Albert Einstein was somewhat of an immigrant, Jewish, and he just happened to be in the United States when his home country of Germany declared war, launching World War II. Werner von Braun, who made NASA possible, was easily accepted as an immigrant after the war despite having served Adolf Hitler in killing British with rockets.

If Abdul Jandali had been among the Syrians escaping years of war in their country, Trump would ban him from America. Jandali was a Syrian from the historic city of Ohms, now destroyed. Fortunately for him, he immigrated decades before the war now tearing that country apart.

Abdul Jandali is the biological father of Steve Jobs, who died recently after founding and leading Apple to become an iconic multi-multi-billion U.S. innovative company whose products are now firmly lodged in many U.S. homes, pockets and purses.

In Trump’s defense, or not, he probably would make a personal exception for Jindali, who never saw Jobs, having split with his pregnant girlfriend who later gave up for adoption their son who became Steve.

You see, Jandali was born to millionaires and came to America as one, making even more millions operating a Nevada gambling casino. Trump’s kinda guy, except you won’t see JANDALI on the building..


Hubris and High Office

A pearl from our past

     One of the main differences between being an adult and a child is the appreciation for the brain’s version of Newton’s Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The brain’s version is: actions have consequences.
So, what makes people in high office be children and behave as though there are no such things as consequences? Hubris. Inexplicable hubris could be termed “blinding hubris.”
Watch every presidential administration up close and one can see this hubris at work in spades. Sometimes it cripples entire administrations such as Jimmy Carter’s. Sometimes it affects only the people involved, as in Bill Clinton’s administration. Sometimes it harms and cripples an entire nation, as in the Richard Nixon and George W. Bush administrations. And who is more suited for the “arrogance” tag than Dick Cheney?
From the condo president who becomes a martinet to local and state officeholders to the federal level, seemingly intelligent, powerful people seem to get an attack of hubris when at another level they would plainly see ahead to the consequences of the their actions.
But, no. Hubris causes people to believe they never will be caught and will get away with it. In Eliot Spitzer’s case, it had to be blinding hubris because his reputation was his prosecutor image of nabbing those whose excess hubris led them to break a law. Also in Spitzer’s case, blinding hubris led to the ultimate political sin — hypocrisy.


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