I believe that years ago ... many, many years ago ... letters to the editor were heeded by politicians. I'm quite sure someone, somewhere, calculated a relationship between a letter to the editor and the number of voters who shared the author's view. I think, in those days, the formula guided legislators.
Over time, as radio and then television became more effective at manipulating voter response, and polls grew more sophisticated, such outmoded means of political guidance fell by the wayside. I suspect letters to the editor are now viewed as a grounding mechanism; a means of letting voters vent their spleen. The result of this transition is a growing sense of alienation and ineffectiveness.
I have absolutely no doubt that most of us want to find solutions to our political problems, but there are several reasons why we are unable to do so:
- Thinking is hard work. It is difficult to meet the economic demands of our lives and also concentrate on political solutions. I've been told by political science professors that, even though they describe the failures in our political system in their lectures, they are too busy with their families to contemplate solutions to the failures they describe. (I felt they "should" make such an effort because they are considered our intellectual leaders in the field of political science ... I now realize I was wrong. My expectation was unreasonable. The fact that they are college professors does not make them any different than a truck driver or a machinist or a farmer. Their goal is to get from day to day. Those, like me, who expect them to do more are unrealistic and ideological nincompoops.)
- We trust. We hire (elect) people to handle political matters for us. We not only expect them to do so, we believe they will. However much we lament the blatant corruption in our government and the bad laws that come out of our legislatures, we rarely think "our guy" is responsible. We find it difficult to understand that corrupt practices could not exist nor bad laws get passed if "our guy" did not condone them.
- We have no options. The parties control every aspect of our political existence. We are inundated with pap and nonsense intended to establish or re-establish control of our government by one political party or another. What could be more pathetic than the political choices available to our people? When a candidates' greatest claim to fame is cynicism, we are all losers.
If we've given someone the job of handling those matters for us ...
If we have no choices anyway ...
What can we do?
... and that's what we do.