Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

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Everybody Wants to Rule the World

I don't want to be president.

No, really. I don't think I'd be very good at it.

I don't mean the campaigning/forging alliances/dealing with media/making compromises/ developing rapport/keeping voters happy parts of the job. Those are certainly important pieces of the job and America isn't going to get, much less keep, any president who isn't pretty good at all of that. In fact, I might be okay at those parts of it. My people-skills aren't nearly as bad as they used to be.

No, I mean the decision-making/being in charge part. The part where the president has to decide what the best possible outcome is, and then decide what the best possible way to achieve that outcome is, and then do his best to make that way the one that gets taken. You know. The ruling part of being a ruler.

That, "deciding the best possible outcome", that one I can pretty much handle. I can decide on goals like "eliminate crime and terrorism as much as possible" and "maximize individual liberty" and "provide equal opportunities to all people" easily enough.

But it gets a little trickier when I have to prioritize them: maybe I could eliminate some crime by putting cameras on every street corner, but that runs counter to my desire to maximize individual liberty. Allowing my police force and military to keep information from the press hinders freedom of expression -- but making everything public would make it all but impossible for security to do their job: the criminals and enemies would always know exactly what was being planned.

And figuring out the best way ... hoo boy. Now there's a challenge. What works? What doesn't work? Do I really need to compromise liberty for security, or do constraints on the former make previously law-abiding citizens mutinous, thereby increasing the amount of trouble I've got? If I want equal opportunities, does that mean providing equality in schooling? What's the most effective way to run a school? Are better school buildings worth the money, or should I spend that on teacher salaries instead? How do I measure a school's performance? Should government be in this business at all or would it be better if parents chose what to use their money for themselves?

People argue these questions vociferously, as if they knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, what the right answer was. You can find anecdotes, arguments, studies, theories, and research that will back almost any position, on hundreds if not thousands of decisions that our government makes.

I'm not good at distinguishing good research from bad research, or at digging through all the information at my disposal in an effort to arrive at the right conclusion. I form opinions based on my beliefs and what I do know ... but what I know isn't enough. Not to make me think, "I could do a good job at being president." Oh, sure, if being president was my job, I'd have access to more resources, and more time to devote to looking for solutions, and I'd hire other people to do research for me. I'd have advisers and assistants at my fingertips. Of course, then my decisions are only as good as the people I hire. I don't think I'd be all that good at knowing who of those offering advice I could trust.

No, I just don't think I'm cut out to be president.

I was thinking about this because I was reading a essay which suggested that the ideal political party should be completely transparent and responsive to the majority voice of its members. If the membership votes up or down on an issue, then the party representatives should mirror that decision.

And I was trying to figure out what I didn't like about this. Part of it is that I don't like the idea of majority rule, in itself. Simple majorities do not offer enough protection for the minority view, and a healthy republic needs to take care of minority viewpoints and members, not run roughshod over it.

And the other part is: a representative's job should not be merely to parrot the beliefs of voters. He should be sifting through his resources, studying available information, examining arguments. He should be taking the time that his voters don't have to study the issues under his purview. Because that's his job. The voters all have other jobs. They don't have time to do his job for him. You can't take a poll on the theory of relativity to figure out if it's true or not, and you can't take a poll on whether or not to upgrade school buildings to find out if kids learn better in larger schools.

Ideally, I'd like to find candidates who wanted the same outcomes I do, and who have the same priorities I do. And then I'd want to be convinced of their honesty, integrity, and diligence. After that, I should be able to vote them into office and let them do their job. Figuring out the best way to make those outcomes happen. I don't want to micro-manage my leadership. I want them to lead, so that I can get on with my own job.

But I find myself spending time and energy figuring out what way I think things should happen, and wanting candidates who share those ways.

I guess good help is hard to find.
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