Bear with me now, things are going to get a little rocky right up front. This column is going to be rough, but then life is rough. We need to be aware, be prepared, and when necessary be capable of protecting ourselves.
That’s true on every level. Personally, professionally, and even in our hobbies. Somebody has to have their head on a swivel looking out for threats and finding methods of mitigating risk. There is light at the end of the tunnel though. So hang in there.
Lately the news has been dominated by failings in Benghazi, at the IRS, and in the Justice Department. On the right the narrative paints the president as a devious mastermind who is bent on the destruction of our way of life. On the left, they portray the president as a hapless man of good intention who had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.
I certainly have no special insight into any of these issues, but as with most complex issues, I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle. Neither of the warring parties is squeaky clean. Nor are they working for the benefit of the public. As is usually the case, they prefer to spend massive volumes of time and money to slap each other in public in an attempt to make points. Serving the people is a secondary concern, I assure you.
If your primary allegiance is to your career, and your secondary allegiance is to the party you belong to (and that is the case for many in politics), the good of the country falls to your tertiary allegiance.
Now seriously, when was the last time you accomplished your third highest priority when your plate was already overflowing with problems that pertained to your first and second priorities?
Solving problems is the least of their concern. Given the choice between a solution for their constituents and an insult for the opposition, most long-term office holders will go for the insult every time. It’s quicker, easier, and makes points with the base back home.
This matters to us because this behavior is not a problem of the political class. It is a problem of human nature. This human tendency to taunt and fuss rather than nurture and assist is why Green Bay Packers fans boo at total strangers wearing a Chicago Bears shirt in the parking lot at WalMart, and vice versa. But sports rivalries are small potatoes in the bigger scheme of things. This is politics. And politics intrudes on our lives in a potentially debilitating way. So heads up, we’re getting into the meat of the message now. Prepare to become livid.
It doesn’t really matter if the left’s description of the president is accurate, or the right’s description of the president is accurate. It matters that we out here in the world recognize that government is not our friend.
It makes no difference if those in charge mean well or not. Bad things will happen either way. If the individual at the top of the power pyramid doesn’t overstep his (or her) authority for nefarious reasons, someone below them will. It’s human nature.
History is full of examples of government power being misused for less than noble reasons. Be they Republican, be they Democrat, be they Green, Libertarian, or members of the American Socialist Party, they are all subject to human nature, and they are all bogged down in a system intentionally designed to be sluggish, impersonal, cold, and wield tremendous power.
The government is not a warm caring force for good. It is a lovely velvet slip-cover thrown over a mace that prickles with thorny spikes. At a distance it is beautiful. Up close it is a fearful thing.
Now for the good news. You’re not alone. None of us are, unless we choose to be. And that matters because whether the issue is landing fees, tower closures, property tax increases, fuel tax increases, TSA rules, or military intervention, government responds to pressure in the form of numbers.
When the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the Seaplane Pilots Association, the California Agricultural Aircraft Association, or any private side organization gathers its resources and goes to the halls of Congress or the state house to argue their case, they have their own velvety mace tucked away in a briefcase. Their mighty club implies numbers, votes, financial support, or the lack of those tidy treats that politicians are so enamored of.
This is how things get done in politics at every level. The process can be ugly and self-serving, but there is no mystery to it.
In short, most people don’t do the right thing because it is right. They do the right thing when it is shown to be in their best interest. That’s sad, but it’s true. Plenty of scientific studies bear out that assertion. Alone, we are vulnerable. Together, we have clout. That is equally true for aviation enthusiasts, firefighters, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and the teacher’s union. Organizations do not band together because their members have an abiding love of bake sales. They organize to benefit politically.
Politics matters. Here’s hoping you get involved in a meaningful way. Because whether you like it or not, there is somebody, somewhere, making plans to take away something that matters to you — because they can. Let’s hope you’re not standing out there all alone when that happens.