“Are smart asses smart or are they just asses?”
The truly clever people are not always the ones who are heard. Some also dare not express their knowledge of uncomfortable truths. Who wants to get into a “shit storm” on the Internet just because you predict and announce the allegedly unthinkable and the oh-so-completely impossible? You get shouted down quickly – thoroughly and ruthlessly by those in power and at the microphone and the buttons of Twitter and other “social” media. And if they cannot avoid the truth anymore, because the dead are already lying in front of 10 Downing Street or piling up in Brooklyn, they just do the “Saul to Paul number”: First deny and ignore reality and then portray yourself as a saint afterwards … Ignore the problem first because it doesn’t fit into your own agenda of power and influence and, when it become unavoidable, simply stage yourself differently – as a savior and hero – because that now fits very well into your own agenda of power and influence …
Long live the forgetfulness of us citizens and voters, the voting cattle. As an unprincipled but power-hungry little flag blowing in the wind of election forecasts with the right party membership – and even more easily as an autocrat – that is how they make it up the ladder of success … That’s how the political leadership game works, doesn’t it?
It would be better to apply our parliamentary democracy as a guarantee of freedom and transparency – including opposition, federalism, necessary ballots and sometimes lengthy debates on finding the right path forward. (And a press that fulfills its role as watchdog.) Still better than to believe those guys with the funny hairstyles and to run after them blindly (or to have to hurry after them because otherwise you’ll be out of favor very quickly). Clever people should therefore think for themselves before they shout “yes, sir – how right you are, sir” or some other nonsense – so that they don’t make an ass of themselves …
Proper information and earnest debate. This is what our liberal democracy thrives on. Listen to the other person, take a critical look at his or her view of things, but do not immediately reject it categorically because it does not fit into your own world view. “Please don’t confuse me with facts, because I am just about to give my people such a nice fairy tale served with soothing words about their heroic leader and all-knowing crisis manager at the pinnacle of power.”
I very much hope that the voice of reason, of those who know and those who are level-headed, of those who argue with the required expertise and objectivity – however soft that voice may be – will always make itself heard and save us citizens and “normal folk” from being led like a bleating flock of sheep by bad shepherds – by the nose and, at worst, into the abyss.
So let us remain ever vigilant!