Saturday, March 26, 2016

The "Willfully Ignorant Politician"

As I've traveled to other states and countries,there is usually a common denominator among public officials, which is willful ignorance. Of course there's always exceptions to this rule, and I've met great and wonderful officials who truly care about the people they represent. However, there are many who by choice or sincerity are ignorant.

This problem is not isolated to any single level of officials. It goes from highest level to lowest. From we need to pass the 2400 page bill to see what's in it, to the multiple examples at the state and local level, you can see the similarities. It is virtually impossible for any individual to have a deep understanding of the multiple issues that is under discussion at one one time. We should not expect our elected officials to be experts on every issue, but we should expect them to know what they're voting on and understand the ramification of their vote. 

I also see officials who give too much credit to consultants and bureaucrats, and don't take the time to try and understand the issue themselves. In many cases the consultants are more like lobbyist as they have a vested interest in the outcome of these votes. When you have an ignorant elected officials, allowing those who have a vested interest in the outcome, it can be harmful to the citizen's and tax payers. Unfortunately, in instances such as this it sometime appears that the elected officials work for the consultants and bureaucrats, instead of the other way around.

When there are subjects that I do not understand, I first try and ask questions of those paid to know this information. However, in many cases the accuracy of the the information can be questionable; therefore, I do the research myself. I am fortunate to have built relationships with people who has knowledge on most subjects that I deal with as an elected official. However, when it boils down to it, I simply am not going to vote in support of something complex if it has not been fully vetted. However, I believe when many of our elected officials are faced with complex issues that they do not understand, they vote yes to avoid seeming ignorant. 

When politicians vote yes for something they don't understand, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. It is very rare that laws or ordinances are revisited later on to determine if they helped or were even needed. I hope that we all take time to encourage our elected officials at all levels to not vote blind. Encourage them to understand what their voting for or against. When politicians vote yes for things they don't understand,it is the citizens that suffer the consequences. 

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