Who’s Really in Charge?

In an earlier blog post, I intimated that at least some of those who espouse feminism in politics or science fiction were not so much interested in changing the structure of society as changing which sex had the socially dominant position. This leads to a related question: In any society, who’s actually in control?

Despite all the political scholars, the media talking heads who pontificate on the subject, the professional politicians, and the academics on both the left and the right and elsewhere, all of whom claim something along the line of “Whoever it is that’s in charge, things would be better if we were,” the answer is far from that simple.

Today, most polls suggest that the war in Iraq is unpopular with more than half the U.S. Yet we live in what is technically termed a representative democratic republic, and those representatives seem unwilling or unable to bring the war to a halt. Less than a third of the population is in favor of either the President or the Congress, and yet both the President and the members of Congress have been elected democratically, albeit by an actual minority of qualified electors.

Those merely slightly less cynical than I would claim that “apathy” is really in charge, but I can only find it chilling that with each expansion of the electorate two trends have continued to predominate if not accelerate. The first is that the intelligence of the average member of Congress has increased dramatically while the quality of decision-making has deteriorated equally dramatically. The second is that the numbers and scope of pork-barrel, earmarked, federally-funded projects have sky-rocketed.

Could it just possibly be that the expansion of the electorate might just have resulted in a political system where ever-brighter politicians use increasingly sophisticated technology and techniques to pander to the wishes of a majority of their constituents, regardless of the long-term consequences or the overarching national considerations?

Could it be that the majority of those voting are actually in charge? How could that be? Surely, the astute citizens of our great land would not continue to vote into office politicians whose principal interest in maintaining position and office translates into an ever-increasing drive to funnel federal bacon into their states and districts, to the detriment of larger national interests. Surely, the desire to do right could not degenerate into merely doing whatever is necessary to perpetuate one’s self in office… could it?