Living Inside the Box

Crowded in Here

I just wanted to take a moment to talk about something I think we conservatives overlook too frequently.  You see, most of us are direct people, meaning that our motives are fairly easy to discern based on our words and actions.  For this reason, we tend to project this directness onto the behavior of others.  That’s a problem.  You see, politicians don’t think this way most of the time, and we tend to think that they do.  Indeed, the whole purpose of “humanizing” a politician is to trick us into believing they’re just ordinary people, direct and honest in their motives and intentions.  It’s not true.  Most successful politicians are people who think three or four layers deep in every action. To attempt to describe this, I offered the following scenario to my wife. She looked at me as though I’d dumped ice water over her head.  She’s a very direct person, no pretenses at all, and this helped her to understand my argument about politicians.  I earnestly hope it will help some of my fellow Americans:

Imagine you’re in line at the check-out at the grocery store.  You’re waiting patiently in line behind an elderly lady who is waiting for the cashier to finish scanning everything.  When the cashier finishes, the lady opens her purse, pulls out a billfold, and begins to count out the cash, but in the process, she drops two twenties onto the floor at her feet, but nobody notices but you.

For most of us, particularly we conservatives, the reaction will be to say: “Excuse me ma’am, you dropped some money,” and even bend over and pick it up to hand it to her.  This is a direct line of thinking that includes a stimulus and a reaction along a very straight path.  It’s uncomplicated, requires no thought, and is simply the right thing to do. I asked my wife what she thought a politician would do in this situation.

She proposed that a politician would stand there quietly, and wait for the elderly woman to leave, then step up and cover the bills with his shoe, until he can bend over to “tie his shoe” in order to conceal picking up the bills to be placed in his own pocket.  In short, my wife suspected the politician would simply be a thief.  I explained to her that only idiots would take this course.  Well, idiots, or liberals. It’s still a direct form of thinking, even if it is dishonest as the day is long.  No, a true politician takes a different approach.

First, the politician would wait for the elderly lady to walk off, pushing her cartload of groceries, and then he would step forward, look down at his feet, making an astonished face, announcing to every one but no one in particular: “I think that poor lady dropped her money.”  With that, he bends over and scoops up the bills, and rushes off to catch the departing woman. He says in breathless words,”Ma’am, I think you dropped this back there at the check-out” as he hands her one bill while stealthily pocketing the other.

You see, he appears to the world and to his victim to have been a hero, doing a good deed, but he got away with being a thief, skimming half for his trouble.  He rationalizes it as a matter of perspective: He could have kept it all, you know.  Notice that the average person thought about what is the right thing to do, while my wife’s proposal of the thief was the simple thought: “How can I benefit?” The politician’s thought process in my example was a little more sophisticated, inasmuch as he was calculating the risks of being seen pocketing the money, versus the chance to get some of the money while scoring a public relations win.  This is an example of the politician looking beyond the obvious answers to see more convoluted “solutions” in the background.

My point to you with all of this is something many of you already know instinctively: Politicians, the effective ones (notice I did not say “good,”)  are all about looking for ways to make every situation into a rationalized win-win.  They may not take the direct course to an objective, giving up some ground along the way, because they see it as low-risk and high-gain in the longer run.  They’re also adept at keeping all the pieces in motion so that you can never build a full picture of what they’re really after, and because of this, politics is a frustrating thing for most Americans to watch.  It’s simply too indirect.  It’s too complex, too distracting, and any observer must keep an eye on every piece on the table, and some that aren’t in plain sight.  Now while this may seem obvious to most or all of my readers, it’s also true that we have a great number of relatively ignorant citizens, who do not pay attention, in part because they don’t like the skulduggery of it all, but it is to them who we must make this more important.  You see, I believe if most Americans knew the whole truth about what’s been done to our political system, or even how our political system was supposed to have worked, they’d become very direct and fix it in a week.

The problem is, most cannot be bothered to think outside the Democrat and Republican boxes into which they’ve been herded, only to discover it’s most frequently only one box, but it simply appears differently depending upon the angle from which one approaches it.  Most politicians aren’t confined to the box, either by intellect or by ethics.  We face many serious challenges to our liberties, and in order to recognize them all, we’re going to need to learn to think outside the box too, not so we can duplicate their shady and indirect actions, but merely so that we can recognize them as such.  While we’ve been playing checkers, they’re generally playing 3D chess, and yet we wonder why we get snookered.  Ladies and gentlemen, don’t be too quick to pass judgments on the motives of politicians.  They’re seldom as simple and direct as our intuition would perceive.  It’s not that they’re smarter than us, but instead that they’re much more devious.

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3 Responses to Living Inside the Box

  1. Kathie says:

    “most cannot be bothered to think outside the Democrat and Republican boxes into which they’ve been herded, only to discover it’s most frequently only one box.” There you have it, Sir. And for many, party affiliation is a substitute for religion.

  2. Reb in Texas says:

    All you said is true, but – like your wife, I prefer to just call most of them as they are – thieves and liars………..