Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Anger and the mediocrity of the ruling class

I’ve begun reading W. Somerset Maugham’s The Summing Up, part autobiography, blended with Maugham’s philosophical observations on life, as well as reflections on religion, morality, and the human condition.

Today, I couldn’t help recalling the passage I read the other night, considering all the hoopla about the special election to our south, in Massachusetts. Written in 1938, Maugham’s observation still rings true, given our usual choice of tweedle dum, or tweedle dee, come election time.

I have known in various countries a good many politicians who have attained high office. I have continued to be puzzled by what seemed to me the mediocrity of their minds. I have found them ill-informed upon the ordinary affairs of life, and I have not often discovered in them either subtlety of intellect or liveliness of imagination.

I keep hearing reports that the voters are “angry.” Angry, angry, angry! What are they so angry about? Maybe these voters need to do some work on themselves and figure out why they’re so pissed, instead of thinking that Scott Brown will be their Mr. Smith.

I’ve given up believing that elections and the politicians that they inflict upon us matter much anymore. I’d much rather focus my energies on the people that matter to me, pursuits that bring me pleasure—like reading and writing—and trying to minimize stress and strife in my own life, which politics inevitably increases. Oh, and stay as far away as I can from angry voters intent on inflicting their ideological anger on me.

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