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Is Politics a Joke?

Tom Turnipseed

Politics is a joke, but the problem with political jokes is that too many get elected.   It is ironically funny but politicians and diapers have one thing in common; they should both be changed regularly and for the same reason. --old political proverb

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. --Plato

Many politicians are jokes, but political involvement is a social necessity according to Plato. Politics in the US is increasingly distrusted by voters, according to a new Pew poll that found only 22% of US voters trust the federal government, while 43 % thinks its impact is negative. In 1997 Pew found that 50% felt the government had a positive effect on their lives with 31% negative.

Politics is a social necessity because we are social creatures. Newly born children cannot live alone. They must socialize to survive, first with their nuclear families, then with friends and neighbors and others in their culture. Politicians make the rules of socialization for the 6,800,000,000 humans who populate our earth. Whether they be dictators or monarchs, fascists or socialists, oligarchs or democrats, liberals or conservatives, politicians make the rules for 6.8 billion people to follow. People either live by the rules or become lawbreakers.  Those apprehended for lawbreaking might be fined, imprisoned, tortured, or killed.  So, whether we like it or not, we ignore politics at our peril.  Why not pursue the politics of being friends and neighbors with everyone?

We should translate friends and neighbors into every language and culture and promote politics that encourages every human being to view everyone else as members of the human family and friends and neighbors. Why not focus politics on a cooperative relationship for all people, everywhere?

Humorist Will Rogers said, "There's no trick to being a humorist when you have the whole government working for you. I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts." Rogers would have loved to joke about the joke of a President, George W. Bush. A joke was commander-in-chief of the US military, a military as big as all other nations' militaries combined! Bushisms were as hilarious as Bush was dangerous.

Here's a Bushisim revealing a Freudian mixture of paranoia and sadism: "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we.  They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we".

The democratic process is a messy, but necessary means to try to make our world a better place. As a young man I became a political coordinator and then executive director of the national campaign of Governor George Wallace of Alabama. I was a racist in denial who followed my family heritage but changed almost 40 years ago, becoming an activist for racial justice, a life member of the NAACP and was co-counsel in a successful case against the Klan for burning a black church in South Carolina. My change was motivated by friends who had turned away from their Southern heritage of racism and I began to empathize with people I was taught to fear.  I was elected to the South Carolina State Senate in 1976. I ran for state wide office a few times against the big money on reform issues, had close races but wasn't elected.  The media makes it a money raising horse race and make money running the ads. I made an issue of how things could be if money didn't control every aspect of our daily lives.

I have been a political activist for peace, civil rights, consumer rights, environmental justice, have hosted radio shows, and enjoy writing about political issues. I have a close up and personal experience with politics and my long time observation of the system confirms that we have the best government money can buy.

Mega corporations, big banksters and fellow Wall Street bandits love the two party system, since it's easier to buy off two parties than more than two with their lobbyists and their campaign contributions.   Goldman Sachs announced $3.46 billion in earnings (Isn't that an oxymoron!) after finally being accused of fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  It is now revealed that SEC employees were watching sex on their computers rather than watching out for Goldman's swindles. Goldman's former President, was Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration, and a leader in repealing the Glass-Steagal Act along with Republican Senator Phil Gramm.  That Act prohibited commercial banks from collaborating with brokerage firms or engaging in investment banking.  Its repeal allowed the creation of credit derivatives such as credit default swaps, a money shuffling, get-rich-quick financial house of cards that precipitated the latest recession.

As Congress debates a bill to regulate financial firms like Goldman, President Obama-who has many appointees and contributors from Goldman and Wall Street-now says he wants them to "join us instead of fighting us", and that they  will profit by doing so.  He says he also wants more consumer financial protections, limits on the size of banks and the risks they can take, reforms on executive compensation, to create more consumer financial protections, to give investors more in company management, and greater transparency for credit derivatives.

Politicians are a joke when they are purchased to put profits over people.

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC . His blog is

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