Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why “Change” is Almost Impossible

This may be a long-winded post and you may fall asleep before getting half-way.  However, I am fired up and need to vent my puny brain in order to get to sleep.

Let’s just say you were attending a large high school and you were pretty tight with your buds and suddenly you started hearing word about a new student arriving from another school.  This other “new” student spends months posting videos on the Internet, buying TV commercials, and radio spots, all to emphasize that *your* school was full of inept, corrupt, good-ole boys who don’t like change and that this new student was going to single-handedly straighten things out.  Make change.  Get things done.  After months of hearing this, the new student arrives at your school and announces they are running for SCA president.

How would that go over?

Now think about this:  Substitute “school” for “Congress” or “Senate”, and “new student” for “candidate” and what do you have?

This is why things in politics will NEVER change.  Change you can believe in? Sure.  And you can believe in the Tooth Fairy too.  But in reality, politics involves, no scratch that… it CONSISTS ENTIRELY of networking and relationships.  When you see campaign ads where the candidate says things like:

  • “It’s time for new thinking in Washington”
  • “I will lead the way for change in Washington”
  • “Because we need someone to make them listen”
  • “I’m going to make them change”
  • “I will work to make them change”

What it inevitably turns into is the following chronological progression:

  • “I’m going to march into Washington and kick ass”
  • “I got to Washington and I’m trying my best to kick ass”
  • “I’m on my second week in Congress/Senate and I’m swimming upstream, looking for the right ass to kick, but there’s just sooooo many!”
  • “I’m submitting bills but most are getting ignored or shot down by my own party cabinet and committee members.  I’m getting my ass kicked.”
  • “I was told if I support my colleague’s bill for a new squirrel zoo in Idaho, he will back my bill for a cat crosswalk downtown. But then I need two more names to get past the first review session and that means I have to agree to add some terms to my bill to get their signatures, which are for a new airport in the middle of nowhere (near the senator’s house), and a school for blind and deaf Lesbian immigrants.”
  • “I’m on day 30 and I’m not making much progress, but this really well-dressed lobby guy offered me some tickets to a NFL game this weekend for my whole family.  Good news is that the blind and deaf Lesbian immigrant school will have a crosswalk for their cats!”
  • “Well, it’s day 90 and I’ve submitted 24 bills, of which 23 were rejected or buried, and 1 is pending with a review committee when they return from vacation in two months.  But I go on my six-month vacation that same week, so it won’t get voted on until early next year.  But since that’s a mid-term election cycle, half of them may not return so I’ll probably have to start from scratch.”
  • “I will not seek re-election.” followed by a quiet exit and a stealth hiring by a major lobbying firm or defense contractor.

Same game, different names.  Always the same.  I saw it with Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr. and now with Obama.  They say the same thing every time they’re asked why they haven’t been able to close the deal on one of their biggest campaign promises: “It’s hard” or “It’s complicated”

Well, no shit.  Golly gosh!

There’s a profound epiphany: politics ain’t easy.  I sure am glad they confirmed that for all us simple folk.

Going back to the high school scenario: Put yourself back in high school just for a minute.  Without the bong and beer cans, ok?  How successful would you have been if you walked in one Monday morning and said something like “ok, everyone, I want you to change the school’s mascot and colors right now!”  (If you could do that, you really should run for a public office).  So what makes everyone put down their cup of brain juice and just accept that a candidate is going to waltz into Washington with spurs, guns and a cowboy hat on and whip things into shape?

They have a term for new elected folks with big egos and big dreams: 

Fresh Meat

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