What is the Goal?

I am beginning to wonder if it really is possible to impact the world in a significant and lasting way through our political process as it is currently structured and experienced. Mind you, I am not saying we should abandon political involvement – I just wonder how much impact  such involvement has on a lasting basis.

There really isn’t anything about politics that changes people’s hearts. The vast majority of us go into any particular election cycle with our minds made up on where we stand on the issues. The only task before us is determining which candidates best represent our views, which is a very different thing from saying that any of them represent our views very well at all! When the question we ask ourselves, election after election, is which candidate is the lesser disaster we can be pretty sure we have a problem on our hands. When you see politicians just make incredible mistakes during interviews – mistakes that it is hard to imagine any thinking person would make – I feel you have to come to the conclusion that we aren’t attracting the best Americans to politics. Instead, we are attracting the ones who are most willing to toss corporate America’s salad – on both sides of the aisle. The only difference between the left and the right is that the right also spends time tossing the salad of the religious right. Maybe that’s why they make more mistakes – their tongues must be tired!

One of the interesting things about statistics is the bell curve. You might remember the bell curve from your school days. I always despised teachers who graded “on the curve,” because if you had an unusually bright class the system was inherently unfair. On the other hand, if you had a class full of dolts, most of them got a better grade than they deserved. The thing about any effective statistical analysis is that it is dependent on the sample size being large enough, and in a classroom with thirty students you don’t always have “F” students – but teachers grading on the curve have to come up with an equal number of “A” and “F” students. However, if you looked at all students across the country in that particular class you could find their raw grades would form a bell curve – it happens all the time when we are looking at human performance. Most people will fall in the “C” range – or average – with equal but smaller numbers of “D” and “B” students, and equal but smaller yet numbers of “F” and “A” students. Exactly one half of students would fall below the average score and one half would fall above it. What does all this have to do with changing the world through politics and the quality of our politicians? I was hoping you would ask!

Intelligence is distributed across a bell curve as well.

What this means is that if we look at IQ scores, the average IQ is considered to be a score of one hundred, and the scores between ninety and one hundred ten are considered in the average range. Most people fall in this range. Exactly half of America will score one hundred or lower, and exactly half of America will score one hundred or better. What this means is that half of America isn’t exactly tearing it up in the intelligence department. Of course, if you are a regular reader of this blog, it’s a pretty good indication you aren’t in that half. If you are wishing right now that this blog appeared in a graphic novel format, you might want to be a little concerned.

So, sixty-eight percent of Americans are either of average intelligence or just slightly (five points) below – not the sharpest knife in the drawer but still able to tie your own shoes and eat without a bib – or just slightly (five points) above average – it’s probably safe to let you cut paper with big boy scissors and drive to work without a GPS or legal guardian. Another way to look at it is that half of the population struggles just to write in cursive, and more than a few of these people get themselves elected to public office. There is nothing about being elected to public office that says anything about a person’s intelligence! But, you ask, who would vote for an idiot? The answer: fifty percent of America would see nothing at all unusual about an idiot. Moreover, I am willing to be that one hundred percent of Americans personally know an idiot and have a family member who is a fully qualified moron. They may very well think of Rep. Todd Akin, “He’s not so bad, he’s just like Uncle Henry.” The sad truth is, they would be correct in their assessment!

You see, if we have any hope of changing our culture for the better, we need to turn our attention to the fifty to sixty percent of America that is educable. Then we need to chop off the members of the religious right in that group, which won’t really change the numbers significantly, because most of them are being fitted for their bibs. So, suppose we have about forty-five percent of Americans who are not brain washed zealots and are educable. We need to start educating them to some really beautiful, but often ignored, realities – the first of which is that everything and everybody is interconnected. That means that when we say we don’t care about other people, the impact is that we hurt ourselves. When we say the goal of life is for us to get as much as we can and to hell with everybody else, we are really saying that when the coup occurs we want to be the people hanging from trees by a rope. When we say we don’t need to worry about the environment because Jesus is going to return any day, we are saying we need a transfer to the other group.

Of course, this won’t happen over night. As we work to better educate people we need to vote for the best there is in the sorry lot we are given to choose from. Over time, however, a significant chunk of Americans will come to understand the complex issues we face and learn to make educated choices. Some of those people will be motivated to run for public office – though, personally, I can’t imagine why – and start replacing the elected officials we have who are wearing velcro and loafers. We really can make things better, but we need to apply our efforts in the right direction

2 thoughts on “What is the Goal?

  1. I think this is a slightly biased article. If we’re talking about idiotic politicians, there are just as many, if not more, from the socialist left. Let’s not assume that government controlling of the economy is an intelligent step. I am not a Christian, but I am politically far-right, but that doesn’t mean I’m an idiot. Technically, my IQ is is about 126 (average of 3 tests with a range of 5 points), and I am educated. I agree there are many conservative idiots. I have read many studies proving actually that liberals have a higher average IQ than conservatives, but the bell curve for conservatives if very skewed left. I think this is due to the fact that conservatism in it’s simplest form to be generally easier to understand and believe than slightly more complex philosophies such as modern liberalism and socialism. However, in more depth, conservative ideologies are much more complex than most liberals can hope to conceptualize, and can’t quite push themselves to believe.

    1. I will grant you that the written word often doesn’t convey the tone of the author. It would be a mistake to interpret this article as not being a bit tongue in cheek. That having been said, I think you may have been projecting a little bit near the end of your comment. I don’t believe the difference between liberals and conservatives is a matter of intellectual capacity. I do believe the difference quite often can be found in different life goals. Many conservatives seem to care little about those unable to care for themselves, and so appear to struggle with responding compassionately. You would have to don voluntary blinders to not see that the fiscal rhetoric of Paul Ryan and others sees the poor and sick as disposable, somehow less than human. When we talk about not providing basic human needs such as education, healthcare, medicare, fair and affordable housing, and meals for children who need them and instead want to provide tax breaks to the richest Americans and corporations we aren’t talking about a difference in intellect. Rather, we are talking about a profoundly different world view. It would seem that the current expression of political conservatism in America is inherently selfish, and the current religious expression of conservatism in America is concerned almost exclusively with sexuality. Both of those trends are a shocking perversion of historic conservatism. Ironically, once the Republican Party crawled into bed with the Religious Right it became the puppet of a bunch of small minded bigots. We need to return to a political system that truly is of the people, by the people, and for the people – and end all of this catering to corporate and religious interests. Let me be clear, the Democrats, while not especially beholden to the religious right but are just as entangled with corporate money as the Republicans are.

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