Voters to blame for seating incompetents

Published 11:30 am Friday, April 21, 2017

Old Mark Twain had a way with words that included the talent of making a point by leaving something unsaid. For instance, this: “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself …”

If you smiled at those words, I must make a confession: Mea culpa! Yes, I admit my guilt. I’ve been doing this for years, and though the names change on the ballot I just keep voting. Over time I have written many words about state and national government, suggesting that many of those elected to office are too stupid to be in any office — except perhaps the principal’s office.

It occurs to me that an apology is in order. Would that I could find a way to apologize to those countless legislators and congressional folks whose integrity and intelligence I have taken pot shots at. The reason for this change of tune on my part is that I woke up the other day with a crystal clear realization that the boondoggles and snafus done by our elected people is in no way their fault. Let me repeat that: they are not to blame for the disasters their policies have created.

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If I may, I’d like to amend my confession from mea culpa to nos culpa. You see, I did not elect any of these folks with my vote alone. Hence, the “nos.” None of them would be occupying any seat of authority if a whole slew of voters hadn’t checked by their names on ballots. We (citizens, voters, constituents, contributors) collectively put individuals into office for which they often have neither the heart nor the head to accomplish anything worthwhile. Thus, you and I are guilty!

As the last eight years ground painfully to an end, it became more and more difficult to find anyone who voted for Obama.

Might it be that the culprits who voted him in grew restless to have him replaced? Were they aware of their own culpability in his being in the White House in the first place?” Already the excitement is waning from the Trump enthusiasts, not even through his first 100 days.

The sad bottom line is that the same uninformed or uncaring populace that elected Obama next elected Trump. Consider a few numbers. In 2016 our country had 322 million people. Of those, 200 million were registered voters. Of that number only 53.7 percent actually voted.  One way to look at this is to realize that the winner garnered a mere one third of the available votes in the country.

One can only guess at how many uncast ballots were the result of the election being set for a workday. Reckon more folks would have voted had the polling places opened on Saturday? The point is that the system itself has the power to alter such details in order to accommodate citizens.

Remember Mitt Romney? Once he observed that “There never was a democracy yet where the people didn’t vote themselves into oblivion.” On another occasion, he said, “Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

So when you next jaw with your friends about some elected official, keep in mind how he or she got elected. Perhaps saying “nos culpa” together before doing a hatchet job on the person would be appropriate.

Just one more peep at the mind of Mark Twain. Once he wrote “Fight organize crime. Don’t re-elect anyone.”

To which the entire congregation said, “Amen!”

TJ Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.