I opine publically about things six days a week and usually have no problem reaching an opinion on whatever is the ‘flavor of the day’. But it is interesting to think about what we would do if we literally had the responsibility of making decisions for our nation. Even placing ourselves in that position is difficult since we can only speculate about the pressures and alternatives needing to be weighed and debated.
Is it possible that each decision comes with just two choices each representing the opposite of the other? At the level of national governance, there must be multiple options for each conundrum debated. If I did this, what about that? Must I consider all the possible effects of an action before that action is formalized to become a decision made? What will my political supporters think if I do this rather than that? How will this world leader react versus that world leader? Is that important enough to us to make me change my mind? If I am vacillating, is either decision the right one?
We have worldwide trading partners to be mindful of when decisions affecting one or another have to be taken. We have significant debt to China that has to affect decisions made in that part of the world. We have threats from North Korea that have to affect decisions made in that part of the world. And, what if those decisions will harm a relationship with the one or the other; which relationship is the most important of the two.
We go through the election season and think, ideally, we have a decent idea of what makes the various candidates tick, of how they’re likely to deal with this issue and that issue. Then we decide which lever to pull or which box to mark. But we have no real idea of what that person will do because the decisions to be made were only hypothetical at the time of the election. Hypotheticals are much easier than real questions since the hypothetical seldom carries adverse consequences in our mind’s eye. Debates with friends and acquaintances can be helpful but can also impact relationships depending upon the volume employed and the position taken in the conversation.
And then there is the world of media. Those who populate that world seem to have little problem deciding what the real decider ought to be deciding about each issue. Members of the media are only on record for that issue on that day and can morph from one position to another with seemingly little difficulty. I have the pleasure of sitting on a village board and find that having the public judge my decisions makes those decisions a little more difficult to reach as it probably should. It is impossible to make that analogy fit the impact an entire nation would have on a decision, especially decisions involving life and death. At least I hope it is impossible to equate the two.
This internal debate of people at those levels of government is impossible to imagine if we have not been there…and the vast majority of us have not had such experience. But, do those members of the national media stop to consider that paradox before writing or speaking? Too often I think they do not, or if they do they give themselves far too much credit for wisdom since their conclusions will impact readers psychically and not physically. Saying one would do ‘x’ in this situation is far different from actually doing ‘x’ in the world’s spotlight.
I think that members of Congress can, and do, take some positions they’d never espouse were they actually sitting in the Oval office. They take those positions thinking more of how many votes they’ll gain than what harm the decision might do to our country. Were they actually the sole decider, what would their decision have been? If we think about how often a national politician can flip-flop on an issue, we begin to see the difficulty in being forced to take a single non-hidden, out-in-the-open decision with which we would have to live for the rest of our lives.
Maybe the next time we face such a decision, we ought to weigh the various options that might exist before we jump to a conclusion. And, we ought to pray that the person sitting in our Oval office has the same thought and takes the same painful debate with self before making such decisions. It is, unfortunately, clear that there are those in Congress that would be glaringly unqualified in these kinds of roles. But they do not seem to understand that they are unqualified to make such decisions in such an abrupt, politically-drive manner.
When we introduce politics and voters into the equation of decision-making, we have added significantly to the weight of the decision to be taken by each individual, and we have placed ourselves and our futures in the hands of people whom we avoided voting for given their history and current philosophies. That those people are unworthy of the decision due to political pressure from their party that might go against the desires of their voters back home, should give us all pause to consider before we mark the ballot or pull the lever.
Unfortunately, there are too many of those people (and too many of those issues), who do not stay true to their stated beliefs at the time we voted for or against them. The pressures of office at that level have to be severe, but we have the right to expect each person will live up to his or her positions taken on the trail. If the position needs to be changed, the politician ought to explain that so we can understand his or her motivation on this vote.
What would we do if?