To Flatter and Satisfy (5/22/12)
In a recent column, David Brooks claims no democracy can succeed without its leaders demonstrating restraint and responsibility. He observes, however, that "Leaders today don't think their job is to restrain popular will. Their job is to flatter and satisfy."
And that, in a nutshell, is one of our biggest problems.
To get elected, our candidates don't really study the issues and present reasonable solutions. Instead, they do endless polling to find out what the people want, and then promise to give them exactly that, regardless of how little sense it may make. And they never dare risk the public's wrath by telling them they're wrong on an issue.
This is completely backward. Figuring out what voters want is easy. They want everything that will make them personally happier. But the country can't survive if that's the only goal. We need leaders who will represent their constituents' true best interests – not guarantee all their desires. And if you don't think there's a big difference, talk to any responsible mother.
Striving merely to "flatter and satisfy" all the voters may be a good way to get elected. But it's a terrible way to govern. And until we begin voting as responsible Americans, leadership will continue to be in short supply.
Here's my question to you: Can any politician today succeed without pandering to the voters? Call and tell us what you think.
I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my…Point of View.