In the United States, the “outsiders” continue to dominate the Republican presidential nomination contests, and even among the Democrats, outsiders are gaining ground. What makes this all so surreal is that the same voters who are backing the outsiders are the ones who backed the insiders in all previous elections, because they’re frustrated that elected government isn’t doing what they wanted.
What very few seem to recognize is that what has led to governmental deadlock in so many areas is that voters penalize any official who tries to work out a compromise by throwing them out of office. So there are few compromises. With neither party able to muster a clear majority, compromise is the only way to get anything done, but compromise has essentially become political suicide, because of the polarization of the two main political parties.
So now the voters want to penalize the mainstream and experienced candidates because they didn’t commit political suicide. These voters are doing that by backing candidates who promise results they cannot deliver because their promises are based on ignoring reality. And anyone in the media or political arena who points this out is shouted down, mocked, or ignored.
Is this the result of the “me” culture? The “I want it now and I’m going to have a tantrum if I don’t get it” culture?
That may be, but I think it’s also largely the result of the two-fold failure of most Americans to understand that (1) none of us deserves special treatment merely because we exist and (2) none of us are exclusively self-made successes.
I’m not saying that successful people didn’t have talent and didn’t work to get their success, but I am saying that without all the social and physical “infrastructure” provided by American society and government, few if any of those successes would have been possible. Just having clean water and decent sanitation provides a great advantage. Almost half the world doesn’t have one or the other. Having a basic education is another great advantage. Roughly over a sixth of the world’s population is illiterate. Having enough food to eat with the right nutrients means that children don’t grow up mentally and physically stunted, but some 13% of the world’s population is malnourished, and in large areas, such as Africa, almost a quarter of the population is undernourished.
Wide-spread corruption and arbitrary laws stifle development, ideas, and success, and one of the major factors behind the success of the United States and Western Europe has been the development and enforcement of more equitable laws and regulations. Likewise, the encouragement and development of national and regional transportation systems by governments fosters success. There are scores of other factors in our culture without which individual genius, determination, and effort would be totally thwarted… and yet the myth of the totally self-made individual persists.
We are in great danger of losing everything if we persist in ignoring that our greatest strength is not survival of the individual most fit, but a culture of cooperation and compromise that allows those with talents to flourish. It might help to remember that the deadliest individual predator on the planet is the tiger – and it is an endangered species.