It’s a comforting idea to think that those who hold federal office are given special access to information the rest of us couldn’t dream of. The popular notion, especially among liberals, is that our leaders are given secret stores of data, granted access to all manner of classified and otherwise off-limits information that the average person could not dream of. The thinking that follows this assumes that their decisions are guided by clandestine information, and what may look like inept or inadequate action is in fact part of a grand master plan.
Just wait. They know better. They have a plan.
It isn’t true. If anything, politicians in general are far more clueless and out of touch than the public they serve.
Serving in politics removes people from the day to day of normal life. They are surrounded, especially at the federal level, by a distorted world of customs and tradition and language. Over time, this has an effect, and it is why the vast majority of politicians (especially those in the U.S. Senate) are thoroughly incapable of communicating like normal human beings.
Meanwhile, in the real world, people can see and interpret information without the filter of the political world.
It is why, for instance, as the Iraq War began to turn into yet another American foreign policy quagmire, politicians in Washington had their heads in the sand as Americans turned against the war.
While more Democrats than Republicans always opposed the war, Democrats were insistent for far too long that they could not come out as explicitly anti-war. At the same time, many in the base of the party assumed that these politicians had access to data and information that the rest of us did not. Surely there was a plan!
As is too often the case in America, the politicians had no idea what the heck they were doing. When the American people had long since reached the appropriate conclusion based on the information they could see every day on television and online, the leaders could not.
We are simply better at this than they are because we’re closer to the real world.
There is no plan. There are no real secret plots and gambits. Real life is not a spy novel or a grand chess game. It is simply human beings, failing over and over, only some of us know better than others. It just happens that the people who know the least are often the ones leading us.