Make no mistake, ladies and gentlemen: This is war, and we need you.
I have read your learned articles on the healthcare debate. I have reviewed your proposals on climate change and environmental protection. For the many (the most of us) who haven’t written or even linked any of those, I’ve read your angry memes and mocking anti-Trump and anti-Republican posts. I have seen these things, my friends, and in listening, the source of your anger has become apparent, as has the problem’s only solution.
The trouble is, you’re sick of corrupt morons in charge of things, and you’re tired of being treated like an idiot yourself by everyone running for office. Tell me I’m wrong; I dare you.
Nine years ago, Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for president with a simple message: As a political outsider, he would have the freedom to change the system itself in order to root out the inefficiency and corruption endemic in our political system. That message was so powerful, so compelling, that he swept past not only the presumptive nominee of his own party but also one of the more popular moderate Republicans. And on his coattails swept in — not populist members of his own party; no, it was the Tea Party that made such huge gains during the next midterms. And why? Because they were outsiders.
Yes, one or two are ignorant racists from districts rich in ignorant racists. That always happens; it’s a side effect of eliminating intelligence tests as a condition for the right to vote. It goes with the territory, and we accept it because the alternative is mass disenfranchisement, unacceptable in a democratic society.
But most are simply outsiders, no more and no less. They are people who, unused to the ways of power and policy, suddenly found thrust upon them committee posts with vast influence on the way we run our country. That so many mistrust science is understandable; they’re not scientists. That so many fail to understand the workings of the law is reasonable; they’re largely people who tried to practice law but couldn’t hack it. They are incompetent because they’re not experts in the field in which they’re working; I daresay they’re more to be pitied than censured.
But they do need to find new jobs.
I hope we’re all together on that point. We’re suffering from misgovernment because the people presently in office are not trained for the decisions they’re required to make. That means we need to replace them with people who are trained, who are experts in their fields — respected professionals who are extremely capable and highly intelligent, and above all who, even if they fail to understand science, can respect the conclusions of scientists.
Most of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives are former lawyers, and not particularly brilliant members of that profession. The brilliant ones are clerking for judges somewhere, or bringing down seven figures helping rich people avoid paying taxes.
Well, since the primary job of the House is to write and then pass laws, I say we need the brilliant ones. Heck, we’d do well to have the competent ones — U.S. Attorneys, federal prosecutors, defense lawyers who know and use every trick to get their clients off the hook. We need people who know and love the law to stop what they’re doing and go help write the law for a few years. (Don’t worry; the big firms will still be there when you’re done.) And you know what else we need? We need cops who know the system, how it works and why it doesn’t, the more jaded and cynical the better.
But that’s not all. The government decides education policy, so we need educators. We need retired principals and masters of high school chemistry and guidance counselors. We need skilled social workers and practicing therapists and people who write textbooks for a living.
The government decides healthcare policy, so we need retired surgeons whose hands started shaking. We need medical records specialists and insurance adjusters and auditors and administrators. And we need nurses, damn it, because while doctors hold awesome power to diagnose and cure, it’s good nursing that saves lives.
And we need scientists. We need them to step away from their research and endless grant applications long enough to serve in a different way. We need them because our government — not just the Administration, but our Congress and the entire entrenched bureaucracy — needs to have a learned voice that can weigh in when policy needs scientific guidance.
My friends, what we need is you.
You’re intelligent. I know this because you’ve read this far and until now you’ve been nodding your head agreeing with me. You understand the need for skilled people to do complex jobs. And you know what? You’re probably a heck of a lot better suited for office than the current incumbent, whoever that happens to be.
I know; you’re not suited for public life. You just signed a mortgage, moved to Denver, had a second kid, bought a goldfish. You’re terrified of speaking in public and can’t afford the cut in pay, yadadda yaddadda yadda.
Suck it up, buttercup. Your country needs you.
But, OK, let’s say you’re not really the brilliant statesman and policy wonk your Facebook feed makes you out to be. You can’t spell without spellcheck, you haven’t got a clue why it’s climate change and not global warming, and your best idea on how to educate kids is to lock them in a room with a bunch of books and hope for the best. (Not the worst ever idea on education, by the way. It worked for me.)
Even more to the point: You cheated on your taxes last year, are cheating on your wife this year, punched out an obnoxious reporter, and you owe your second child to the Mob over gambling debts. These are all good excuses — nothing your own Congressman hasn’t done, mind, but there’s a reason we need to change the diaper– err… incumbent, and that’s a big part of it right there. Fine; we won’t make you run. But you’re not off the hook.
You see, even if you are completely worthless as a candidate, you’d do just fine as a volunteer, working the phone banks and putting up signs. You can donate to campaigns; after all, if the Mob will take your second child… Well, no, probably not that, but you could do something. Most of all, if you know someone who ought to run, you should tell them so over and over until they say yes, and then you should back them all the way, win or lose. The midterms are coming, and we need good people of every political stripe.
You may not like the way things happen in politics, but our system’s greatest flaw is also it’s most brilliant opportunity, and this last election cycle proved it like none other before: Anyone can become president. And if that’s the case — and it is — then it’s also true that everyone has the power to make a difference.
Your country needs you. Are you in?