Political leadership in a democracy is driven by being reelected, and thus leaders must make all of their decisions based on short-term self-interest, rather than on the long-term interests of their constituency or of humanity. The problem is that most of the voting public is not very interested in anything that doesn’t enhance their short-term self-interest, and thus the majority will vote for the candidate who promises to solve their immediate problems. That means that the current American voter is driven by economic insecurity created by spending more money than they have and going into debt to get the extra cash they want. Their wants are driven not by needs, but by the fantasies created by advertising and supported by money lenders. These two institutions are linked and driven by the flow of ready fantasy money which brings on an occasional collapse back to fiscal reality, and that means charging the middle class of people to pick up the shortfall of money created by the very wealthy and the very poor. The unfortunate result of this policy for the last fifty years is to shrink the middle class, and if the trend continues for another fifty years to drive it into oblivion. Then we will only have a very wealthy class of people, and a very poor class who will be functionally be debt slaves. We are almost there now, and the simple proof of that is the news report last month that 48% of American adults can not come up with $400 to cover a short-term emergency. That must be impossible, and yet when conversing with some accountant friends, and some lawyer friends too, they agreed that it was a realistic assessment, based on their experience with their clients.
And there is the problem! If the majority of people are that desperate financially in this time of fantastic abundance because of their inability to spend their money wisely, what chance is there that they will support politicians who will control their long-term debt in a responsible way? People yell back at me, “What do you mean abundance, when everyone is so desperately poor?” They are so complicit to the whining generated by the media that they attend to, that they don’t realize what a wonderful world we presently live within. Militarily war deaths are for the last twenty years 1/100th what they were the last century. Infectious diseases when my grandparents were young were killing almost everyone in the long run, and now, at least here in the US, kill almost no one, and old-age diseases like cancer and cardiovascular disease are the most common causes of death. And, what about food, without which we can’t live? … Back 200 years ago 95% of people were farmers, because it took that much effort to create our food, and now only 3% are farmers, and the rest of us workers are using our time to create all of the goodies that we have come to expect. What goodies? It’s a vast wasteland of useless junk, most would assert, and yet 70 years ago, entertainment meant conversing with friends, playing cards, creating music together, or listening to AM radio with a couple of stations. Now with Netflix and similar services we can access endless entertainment almost for free. I could go on with other ways that within my personal memory were fantastically less accessible, such as transportation, information access, meeting friends with similar interests, and drugs.
The problem for our political process is that most of our voting public has lost contact with reality and can not even select reasonable candidates.