A few years back, actually over ten, I was interviewing for help at a refrigerator and air conditioning company. We needed qualified and reliable people and they were tough to find at the time but there were two leading candidates that were at the top of the list to choose from. One of them had better qualifications in most ways but after checking his reference it turns out that he left suddenly without explanation. This was the candidate that I would have preferred to recommend if I thought we could trust him but I wanted to find out for sure. So I called him in and asked if he would come in for a second interview; he had already been informed that this might be a possibility if he was a serious contender.
(first posted on Open Salon November 21, 2011)
When he arrived I started the conversation with some talk about the business, small talk essentially to put him at ease; then I got around casually to the issue at hand. I tried to ask if he had a more detailed explanation as to why he left his previous job suddenly.
His response took me by surprise; he said, “Don’t even go there.”
This struck me as peculiar and I assumed there must be some misunderstanding because no one would ever behave like that during a serious job interview so I asked about it again.
And he responded by saying louder and with more conviction, “Don’t even go there, DON’T EVEN GO THERE!”
I was somewhat stunned by his reaction; so I explained that I had to find out about this if I was going to explain it to my boss. I tried to explain that we have to have reliable people that we could trust and rely on and that we also needed qualified people which he seemed to be but we had to have an answer to this question. But before I could even say this to him He repeated “Don’t even go there.”
I said, "But…”
Then he interrupted with a comment that really blew my mind and made me wonder whether I was dealing with an escapee from the loony bin. He just said,
"9-9-9,” loudly with a stern look on his face and he seemed to have something in his teeth.
I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell that was supposed to mean but decided not to ask; instead I just changed the subject thanked him for coming in and informed him that I would be in touch with him, I decided not to use the word soon which is what I usually say even though I don’t mean it.
I decided to hire the other guy even though he wasn’t quite as qualified
Skeptical? Are you thinking this is just an analogy to compare with Herman Cain? That would be ridiculous; after all, the candidate I interviewed actually did know about refrigerating and air conditioning which clearly doesn’t apply to the situation with Herman Cain; he doesn’t seem to know anything about the job he is applying for! However since you seem to think that is what I’m doing and there are still some legitimate comparisons I’ll bite and compare them along with the rest of the so called field of candidates; and while I’m at it I’ll consider the possibility that the entire way we elect officials to office is seriously flawed.
Recently on the Chris Mathews show he referred to the “the position he was applying for while talking about one of the presidential candidates; I’m not positive which one probably Herman Cain or Rick Perry but that isn’t the point. This is the first and only time that I can remember a commentator from the Mass Media or political establishment use that phrase implying that it should be looked at like filling out a job application; unfortunately he didn’t elaborate on it and quickly went on to another subject while ridiculing the candidate in question. This is the usual demagoguery tactics that members of the Mass Media use including Chris Mathews. Prior to this I rarely ever hear it referred to in that manner with some exceptions; the only places I have herd it recently are a few low profile bloggers and perhaps once briefly when I was in school where I think they may have quickly compared them by saying that it is similar but due to the technical difficulties that we couldn’t interview candidates in the same way therefore we did it differently. This wasn’t followed up by a discussion about whether or not we should do things differently or whether or not we should at least try to find a way to enable the public to interview candidates the same way business people interview job applicants.
I’m sure there will be problems trying to organize this but I have no doubt that if the public tries they can overcome at least some of these problems and come up with a system that is better than this. At this point simply informing the majority of the public that elections are essentially a process we use to hire people to do a job and that the people being hired are supposed to work for the public not the other way around would be better. Instead what we do now is treat this like the people running for the highest political office are actually running for Prom Queen or King. They’re treating this more like a popularity contest that has little or anything to do with issues and when they do address issues they don’t seem to do so consistently or honestly at all and it is more or less a joke that isn’t very funny.
Previously I have written about why we should have election reform that is controlled by the public and that we should also have an Educational Revolution, or something similar to that and more recently I have requested some ideas for ballot questions (I’ll be following this up soon with some of my own); the point is that in a democracy we’re supposed to have a government by the people for the people and of the people; which means that the people should have some control over the way the election process is held. This may be difficult so in the place of direct control by the people the election process has been controlled mainly by the political establishment and the Mass Media.
In the past there has been a more diverse Mass Media but in the last twenty years or so they have been allowed to consolidate so that the vast majority of the Mass Media is now in the hands of a small percentage of the public. Even when it was much more diverse it was still in the hands, primarily, of those with enough money to run a media outlet, and for the most part they relied on either ads or high subscription prices, which was enough to exclude a significant percentage of the public; but this was better than it is now. In the past there was also much more input from additional non-government institutions like the league of Woman voters; this still didn’t include everyone but for the most part even this has been allowed to erode and what is left is a pathetic charade passing for democracy with candidates that don’t seem much smarter than the three stooges.
The candidates have proven that they know little about many of the most important issues and in some cases they even make statements that should be considered downright dangerous even if they’re not the president yet. One of the most blatant examples of this should be the way they addressed the issue of Iranian Nuclear capacity. Several of the candidates have clearly indicated that they thought it would be a good idea to rely on the threat of force to prevent the Iranians from getting nuclear power. They pay little or no attention to the history behind our relationship with Iran or the fact that the USA recently invaded Iraq based on false pretences and almost certainly would not have if they had nuclear power. It is guaranteed that the Iranians haven’t forgotten about the past activities that the USA has conducted including their support of the Shah, who maintained power by force and torture, starting at least as far back as 1953; the supplying of arms to both sides of the Iran/Iraq war virtually guaranteeing that it will be prolonged; and the fact that after the Iranians agreed to provide help finding the terrorists that attacked on 9/11 George W Bush went ahead and declared that they were part of an “Axis of Evil” anyway. The current rhetoric is a clear indication to the Iranians that if they want a deterrent to the USA they may need to have nuclear power which is the exact opposite message that the political establishment should be sending. Clearly this type of rhetoric should rule out all the candidates that are using it to any rational voters but they’re catering to the fringes.
Regardless of why they’re proven to be unqualified it should be done by the public and they should be able to do this with the most accurate information available. In a job interview for a regular job if the person doing the hiring doesn’t find a satisfactory candidate they advertise for more and eliminate the unqualified. This is what we should do when electing people. But the problem is that we have all our potential candidates chosen by the political establishment and the Mass Media and once they pick their candidates that are screened so that people that support the will of the people over the will of the corporations are ruled out they stick with it. There is no system to eliminate the candidates that have proven unqualified and take a closer look at the many other candidates that are might be more qualified.
Project Vote Smart has listed over two hundred candidates for the presidential election; not once has the Mass Media said that perhaps if these current candidates for president aren’t qualified perhaps we should take a closer look at the other candidates. If any businessman was unsatisfied with the current candidates and they had a long list of other potential candidates then they wouldn’t hesitate to look closer at them.
Unfortunately even most of these candidates haven’t filled out applications for the job that Project Vote Smart has provided; actually this may be the fault of Project Vote smart in at least some cases. But the point is still the same; if Project Vote Smart isn’t doing an adequate job due to lack of funding then a way to fund it should be found instead of giving the money to the candidates and they should also be held accountable to the public and if they don’t do the job well enough then another similar organization should be set up. One way or another we should try to find a way to eliminate the unqualified people and those corrupted by the corporations and consider those that are answering to the will of the public.
The candidates routinely act as if they’re the ones that should be able to control the election process and if the press criticizes this at all it is to imply that it is actually the press that should control the process; no one in power gives serious consideration to the possibility that the public should have some control over the process.
One of the most blatant examples where a member of the press acts as if he has some kind of divine right to interview candidates or report to the public about what the politicians are doing is a popular propaganda spot that is currently being aired about Chuck Todd on MSNBC. In it he talks about how it is his job to ask the tough questions and look out for the best interest of the public and how the public has the right to know what is going on. This may sound good if you don’t think about it to hard; however the moment you start thinking about it the legitimacy of this ad falls apart and it becomes clear that it is a blatant propaganda piece. Who is it that decided that it was his job? The Corporations of course, MSNBC made the decisions but they may have accepted input from the other corporations that buy an enormous amount of advertisements on the station. And if you look at the many things that he doesn’t look at when it interferes with the best interest of the corporations this propaganda looks even worse. No members of the public truly have much if any say in his hiring, or any of the other people, spreading propaganda for the corporations.
They do give the public lip service and allow some members of the public to ask questions but the crowds at these events are routinely screened one way or another and the ones that are screened by the candidates, which probably includes the vast majority, are routinely people that can be counted on to cheer them on blindly without asking too many if any questions, especially tough ones. The ones screened by the media are a little more diverse but they’re also controlled by the same corporations that contribute the vast majority of the money to finance the campaigns which means that almost all the interview process is in control of the multi-national corporations. This is not the way any sincere democracy should ever be run!
In fact whenever it comes to something that would be intolerable when a job applicant for a business does it we should wonder if or why it should be tolerable when a candidate does it. Additional examples of this could include the fact that many candidates refuse to appear before audiences that they don’t approve of, fill out questionnaires, attend debates unless the format meets their satisfaction, use distorted advertisements, arrange for someone else besides the voter to do the screening, accuse each other of being incompetent and many other things. I could have just as easily done a satire about two job applicants who came in and, instead of telling me why they were qualified for the job they started insulting each other and telling lies about each other. If that happened in a business job application any potential employer refuse to hire either and look at other candidates.
Clearly, as I have indicated in my previous blogs about election reform it would be much better to have a system that is controlled by the public. And the candidates should be reminded that they are trying to apply for the job and if there are some people that are screened out it should be done by the public not the Mass Media. Right now they decide who is winning by taking polls that are controlled by the Mass Media and are grossly incompetent. They routinely poll people that aren’t well informed about the issues and ridicule them for being ignorant; yet at the same time they also feed them an enormous amount of propaganda that is designed to ensure that they stay ignorant. It’s kind of like steeling someone’s money then blaming them for being broke.
In 1989 the political establishment even went one step further when they introduced Channel One (review of Roy Fox’s study) to schools which provides free TV to school children in return for allowing them to provide news commercials that are controlled by the corporations. This is clearly an example of propaganda that is responsible for a large portion of the lowering of the school performance as clearly indicated by Roy Fox’s study. This is a major part of the reason why many young people aren’t participating in the democratic process; fortunately there is also a backlash among many other students that are not attending Channel One Schools or see it as a wake up call and presumably these are many of the people participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Fortunately there has been some improvement although it hasn’t been widely publicized; and, at least for the time being, it may only be a token amount of improvement designed to appease the public. The White House has decided that they would start accepting petitions and respond to requests by the people. This is available at White House petitions; unfortunately they gave this petition drive very little promotion.
When this was first introduced I found it in an obscure notice that wasn’t widely circulated and book marked it with the intention of getting back to it and never heard about it again from the Mass Media until it was pointed out by another blogger. Since then apparently they have raised the threshold from 5,000 signatures necessary for a response to 25,000. Even if they are sincere about these petitions it wouldn’t do much good if the majority of the public doesn’t even know about it. Clearly they need to do much more to inform the public and this should also be done at the state level.
There may be some difficulties with sorting through all the petitions but they can be worked out as they go along if they try to give it adequate resources. In many cases they may be trying to provide as many resources to advance the views of the powerful and suppress theses petitions though. This is what the current campaign system has been doing for decades; so one of the most effective ways to improve the way of handling these petitions is to stop those that want to suppress them. There is some indication that these partitions aren’t being taken seriously and perhaps that there are some attempts to provide at least a couple of counterproductive petitions to discredit the system. This should not be allowed to stop the process from moving forward! When these obstacles arise they should be overcome in the most effective way possible.
One simple thing they could do to improve it quickly is to make it easier to access the petitions in the first place. When downloading the petitions I had to hit load more petitions over and over again to get to them all. Some of these petitions clearly seem to be worthwhile but a couple of them clearly indicate that some people are clearly fed up with the way the petitions are being handled; one of them even asks for a “vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition;” which might be looked at as an insincere petition by some. Even if you don’t consider this an insincere petition it is virtually guaranteed that some will be posted that shouldn’t be taken to seriously and that they might want to delete these; then they might expand the ones that they censor to include more serious ones. An example of one that might be used to justify the beginning of a censorship process of petitions might be something like, “Obama should be impeached due to the fact that his birth certificate is invalid.” Even if you don’t think this is worth censoring they could search for more and find one you will think is worth censoring; then they could expand it to include the gray areas. Therefore it would be a good idea to set up a screening process so that the public will be informed of what petitions if any are being censored. This could essentially mean that instead of deleting these questionable petitions that they move them and those that want to review them can do so and ask that they be brought back if they think the option is being abused.
The following are a sampling of some of the petitions that might be worth considering or the ones that raise doubts about the way the process is being handled. The rest can be found at White House petitions; however as indicated previously you will have to hit show more petitions many times to work through them all.
Grant voters the ability to vote for the President of the United States by dissolving the Electoral College.
Ensure all school libraries are properly staffed, open, and available for children every day.
Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening
We demand a vapid, condescending, meaningless, politically safe response to this petition.
End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive "War on Drugs"
Recognize the men and women who are occupying wall street
Reallocate Defense funds to NASA.
This should be one of the demands for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Clearly they want more accountability from the government and they want to end the control of the government by the corporations and this can’t be done without some form of election reform; if it isn’t what I have been recommending it should probably be something similar. In fact this should be done with the input from a large number of people so it is virtually guaranteed that whether they start with something I provided or a version that someone else provides it will have to be subject to review and amendment. When this happens care should be taken to ensure that the amendment process isn’t designed to sabotage the improvements sot that the old power brokers can maintain power or that new corrupt power brokers can take over.
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