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Monday, July 09, 2007

They Just Don't Get It - The Stink Bait Ain't Workin'.

The president is baffled; the Democrats and Republicans befuddled; the media can't explain it. The American public doesn't seem to trust anyone anymore. You can check out the polls. They tell a story of a massive lack of public confidence in the very people and institutions who are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of the American people. Instead what we get is one betrayal after another by so-called public servants, who may be serving someone, but I'd be willing to bet it's not the public.
We don't trust the Congress.
We don't trust the President.
( ).

The congress, the administration and the media establishment are all like a bunch of fishermen who have brought the wrong tackle with them on a fishin' trip. They keep casting out shiny, colorful lures - the kind of bait they would just love themselves if they were a fish (or a voter in this case) and they can't get the unwashed masses to bite.

It's the dangdest thing.

To carry the fishing metaphor a little further (at the risk of sinking this entire essay in a bucket of stink bait), imagine politics as just that - fishing for votes. Now if you're going to fish for fish there are just two philosophies.

1. You try to understand the fish, what it wants to eat, where it likes to swim, what attracts its attention. Then you go where it lives, use bait that makes the fish happy and wiggle it in front of them so it looks like lunch.

2. Take whatever lures or bait or tackle that YOU like, fish where YOU want to fish and dangle the bait in a fashion that amuses YOU.


Now I want to admit up front that I am a member of the second philosophical group where fish are concerned. My sympathies always lay with the fish. I just like throwing lures in the water and cranking them in. There's a sort of Zen quality to it that I find relaxing. Actually catching fish interrupts the "flow" for me.

That's probably why politics never was terribly interesting to me.

Now, my question is, if getting elected or re-elected is the point of politics, then why do politicians seem to be doing what would be counter-intuitive if they want to be re-elected.

The general public has some pretty clear ideas of what we need in this country. They want security, a healthy economy and not to have to pay a lot of taxes for all this security and prosperity. Over 80% want our borders closed. Seems to me someone would be talking tough on that subject if they want to win the next election. Why aren't they? How did they get the Immigration Bill so wrong? Why are they doing so many things that have alienated voters? Who are they fishing for?

Maybe the analogy to politics is more like pro fishing or commercial fishing. The fish isn't the real target. For pro fishermen, it's less about how many you catch, but what kind. When you come down to it, pros are often fishing for sponsors rather than for fish. Commercial fishermen are fishing for canneries or markets. They have to have the funding to go where the specific fish they want are and the gear to harvest them in the largest numbers.

So, let me suggest a third "Fishing Philosophy".

3. Fish in such a way that you catch enough fish to make your sponsor happy by using his brand of tackle, or his brand of boat or by catching his particular "target" fish demographic or by attracting the kind of customer he wants to sell to.

I think politicians looking for voter support have stopped really trying to please voters. Always, they have to have one eye out for the sponsor and what the sponsor needs or wants. Really, the folks providing the money for the nets and gear and boats become your first priority in this analogy. You have to make them happy. The fish, like the voters, become just a crop to be harvested using the most efficient method money can buy.

Maybe that's the problem with politicians (and the media for that matter). Perhaps, they're not working for you and me. Instead they're working for their sponsors. Maybe rank and file voters have become merely a crop to be harvested and the politicians and the media have begun working for the ones who pay for the advertising. Ironically, it's the same companies and people that pay for all the advertising that keeps the media afloat that also funds the candidacies of both political parties.

Now knowing who everybody's actually working for (and it's not us), is it any wonder the American People don't have a lot of confidence in these guys?

No matter what they say, professional politicians and media guys are pretty much working for the people who pay for the commercials.

Me, I think I'll sit in my boat and drag my big old noisy bass lure through that school of crappie over there. I like makin' me happy!

Just one man's opinion....

Tom King

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