The subject of my blog post today is one that I have written about prior. At the risk of engaging in redundancy, I will try to express some new thoughts and observations in an attempt to explain what I see as a dichotomy in our culture as it relates to our politics. I have noticed many people, especially among my fellows on the Right side of the political spectrum, criticizing the federal government for that in which they engage themselves. I do not want to be mistaken for someone who thinks there are no flaws in our current federal behemoth, only that it is expected, being populated from a culture that is seriously flawed.
Primary to my discussion is the federal debt, which is now 110% of the Gross Domestic Product (basically the economic output of the nation). But a recent article in Forbes magazine makes the salient point that the average American has debt that is around 350% of their own personal GDP. That means that at least some of those criticizing the federal government for their over-spending (which no doubt is troubling), are themselves practicing the same profligate spending in their own lives. I have in recent years been flummoxed by those people who expect the federal government, with all its taxing authority and thousands of bureaucrats dependent on federal spending, to somehow be more fiscally conscious than they are themselves in their own lives.
An additional area of criticism of the federal government by many of its citizens is the dishonesty with which our leaders conduct themselves. But these same individuals do not perceive the log in their own eye as they pick out what many times are splinters from the eyes of their leaders. Exemplary of this behavior is the relative ease with which many Americans will "fudge" personal information in order to get a loan or lower rates on insurance. Or the many parents who will help their children cheat on school projects by providing much more than just guidance, sometimes doing most of the work themselves. There are myriad examples of the daily dishonesty of people who criticize their leaders for dishonesty. From lying about a child's age to save money on movie tickets or restaurant meals, to stealing their employer's time by spending work time on social media when they are suppose to be performing the task for which they are being paid.
I am not sure how we as a people expect our leaders to be far superior to the culture from which they spring. If the well is polluted, then the water one extracts from the well will be polluted as well. This is why term limits on members of congress is such a foolish pursuit. One will not obtain unpolluted water from a polluted well by dunking the bucket into it at a faster pace. And while the sentiment of "Change Washington" makes for pithy campaign slogans and bumper stickers, the center of our political system will not be changed until the polis around it is changed. We must change the culture before our politics will be changed. And those who are unwilling to change themselves and their communities, and expect national politicians to do so, are living in a hypocrisy which I think is more damaging to the long term health of this country than the ephemeral corruption of their leaders.