In elections we have a choice between liars and idiots. We presume that the liars are competent because they're at least smart enough to lie successfully to us and we assume that the idiots are honest because they're too stupid to lie to us. Except as it usually turns out, the liars are also idiots and the idiots are also liars.
Now as we watch state and federal administrations implode, the Peter Principle insists on further centralizing unworkable systems. And so Europe gets the EU whose united incompetence, corruption and sheer unworkability tops that of even the worst functioning Eastern European country to create a sheer vortex of corruption and incompetence that exceeds anything that even Italy can manage. I'm not one of the believers in the North-American Union but I have no doubt that at some point a system like that will move forward, if only because federalization in the hands of the incompetent allows for more money to be shoveled away and less accountability at the top.
In Israel meanwhile Olmert is following the precedent of defining leadership down to the point where it is nearly undetectable by modern technology.
However, during a visit to an Ashkelon school, one of the students shared an idea for curbing the rocket fire.
"My dad said that we should have some sort of button, so every time a Qassam is fired, it will fire back at them," the fourth-grader told Olmert.
"Well, I think your father should have that idea patented," answered the PMThe closest fortified room – the school's computers class – was two minutes away from the yard and most classrooms. "We don't have enough time to get to the shelter, so we hide under our desk," the school's fourth-graders told the prime minister.
Deputy Mayor Levi Shafran told the prime minister, "As you have seen with your own eyes during the drill we conducted in the class you visited, the children's only protection (from the rockets) is their desks. (The government) must protect, not fortify; it must deal with the Qassams and the Grads and not fortify the city with a budget that is equal the what the city spends in 15 years."
Olmert told the city council that "the only way to deal with the harsh reality is by gritting teeth."
Toward the end of his visit to the southern city the prime minister said "I am leaving encouraged. I did not come to make any promises to the residents, but to convey to them that the situation is complex and that we have no immediate solutions. However, I am encouraged by the fact that the municipality, the residents and the students are not afraid.
So what exactly can we expect of our leaders at the end of the day? We can't expect them not to commit crimes while in public office. We can't even expect them to defend us against Islamic terrorism. All we can apparently expect from them is criminal incompetence and lies.
But that's the problem, our own diminished expectations. The rise of the television President or Prime Minister has also driven political style over substance. Every time a politician commits a crime and gets away with it, he makes it safe for future politicians to behave amorally. Each time expectations are defined down, the standards get lowered for the country as a whole.
What seems to matter least in elections these days is a track record of results. Instead we're expected to choose the candidate whose political machines puts forward the best narrative or anti-narrative. We confuse political instability with democracy as parties rise and fall, little realizing that rather than political change, all that results is political rhythm. A revolving door for crooks. One party leaves and another party enters and both know that the results will soon be reversed anyway.
We've spent far too long allowing leadership to be defined down. We've taken the privilege of government for granted, but it is a privilege for government to exist and that privilege depends on results. Without results the public owes no obedience to government whose authority is derived from the people, rather than the other way around. No government in America, Europe or Israel has the right to exist unless it protects the public from external threats and internal corruption from its own organs. The repeated failure to do so and the admission that it has no intention of even doing so, as exemplified by the quote above, frees the people from any obedience to the government.