All-Purpose Platitudes

Column by Paul Hein.
Exclusive to STR
During the pre-election propagandizing, I heard enough platitudes to last me a lifetime, but it hasn’t ceased with the cessation of voting. Now the president, seeking to make the best of a bad (for him) situation, is giving us still more, but they’re the old familiar, tried-and-true blatherskite we’ve come to know and despise.
“The majority has spoken.” This evidently refers to “democracy,” which has replaced the Deity as an object of worship in this country. In other words, the rule of the people. Well, let’s see about that.
There are about 303 million people living in this country, and 208 million of them are eligible to vote--a definite majority, without a doubt. However, it is uncommon for more than half of the eligible voters to actually vote. Let’s be generous and use the figure of 55% as the percent of registered voters who actually voted in the recent election. That means that about 114 million people voted. Definitely NOT a majority!
But it gets worse--or better, depending upon your devotion to the ballot box. The winners in an election rarely have much more than 60% of the votes, and usually less than that. Again, let’s be generous, and decide that the winning slate got 60% of the votes cast. That is approximately 69 million voters, which is about 23% of the population, or 33% of those eligible to vote. Majority rule? Nonsense!
“It’s time to set partisan differences aside, and work for the good of the people.” The “good of the people” has, I am sure, rarely, if ever, played a decisive role in determining a politician’s actions. And the “partisan differences” refer to the arguments among the partisans as to robbing the citizens this much, or that much. Instead of the arm and leg sought by the pre-election gang, the new gang will settle for both arms. Whoopee!
“I’ve called my victorious opponent and offered my congratulations, and best wishes.” Let’s see: this opponent was, until just before the election, an unprincipled crook whose election would mean disaster. Your attack ads pictured him--probably fairly accurately--as a liar and a thief. Ah, but he got a third of the votes--a few thousand more than you did--and now he’s a model of rectitude. Ain’t democracy grand!
We’re assured that the new boys and girls will work to “get the economy going again,” although how this is to be accomplished is left unsaid--probably because those who say it have no idea how to accomplish it. The new Congress will clean up the environment, provide improved medical care, deal with illegal immigration, spread democracy all over the globe, including places where people would prefer just to be let alone, and cool off the overheated planet. Wonderful! Why, we haven’t heard such thrilling projections since the last election, two years ago, or the one two years before that, or the one--well, you get the idea.
The promises are always vague, often the same, and never kept. Most people realize that the promises of the rulers mean nothing. What is truly remarkable is not the sweeping extent of the promises, but that the public continues voting for these blowhards year after year.
Who was it who said, “Cheat me once; shame on you. Cheat me twice; shame on me?” Voters have apparently not learned this lesson.

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Paul Hein's picture
Columns on STR: 150


B.R. Merrick's picture

Few things I have read sum it up better than this.