Here I am on a Saturday morning during the winter Olympics in Sochi. The U.S. hockey team is currently playing mediocre hockey in a determined effort to lose the Bronze Medal game to Finland. As I watch this terrible game and see professional hockey players, each paid millions of dollars to play a game, essentially put forth the minimum effort and in that process, show the world they could care less about a Bronze medal. A Bronze medal! At the Olympics! These were the best hockey players the US had, they were chosen for the honor of representing their country. Chosen! These spoiled hockey players show no respect for their country, for the Olympics, for each other. It is embarrassing.
At the same time, in the province in Canada where I live, the Premier has spent public money to go to Nelson Mandela’s funeral. She did not go to represent Alberta, we would not have expected that, Alberta had no exceptional connection to him, though he was undoubtedly a great leader. she went because she had a personal connection to him. She spent our money to go and do that. This person who was selected by her party, she received 37,400 votes. In a province of 3.6 million people, 37,000 voted for her and she became the Premier.Maybe she was the best person for the job? Maybe she was the best person available, and maybe she is the best person in Alberta and should be the leader of our province? Maybe that is true. How would we know? Our system is not designed to find the best person, it is designed to find the most popular of a group of insiders put forward by themselves. It is a broken and flawed system.
The two things got me thinking. What if we treated politicians the way we treat hockey players? What if they started off in local politics, working hard, getting noticed, and then the higher levels noticed and drafted them to go up to the next level, Provincial politics, where they worked hard and got noticed, and then the best of the best got drafted and payed millions of dollars to represent us and they could only stay in the Majors (National politics) if they were really good at it, smart, improved the country, genuinely tried to make life better for the people that put them there.
I wonder what the world would be like if that was the way it was. I don’t expect it to happen, we will continue to elect the most popular of a small group and hope against hope that they will do better than the last “most popular” person. We will continue to pay millions to the people who play kids games at a high level and we will continue to cheer for them. We are wired to long to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and for millions of people around the world, sports teams fill that void. Sometimes and usually rarely, we are rewarded for that cheering and those teams excel and the players are better people than the rest. Sometimes they live up to our hopes. That is more than I can say for our politicians, they never seem to. The power corrupts, or the system corrupts, something does and the good among them drop to the level of the rest and seem indignant when called to question for anything.
I wish there were politicians worth cheering for and I wish the system rewarded the selfless and classy among them, but it does not. It rewards those who play the game…I guess both systems do that…Sigh!