Opinion: A humble suggestion to improve our politics

AP File Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Angels do not govern men, a fact we face more and more often.

The U.S. Senate this week alone featured one member who may face an ethics investigation (Robert Menendez of New Jersey, whose corruption case ended in a mistrial), one member who asked for an ethics investigation into himself (Al Franken of Minnesota, accused of sexually assaulting a woman on a USO tour 11 years ago) and one aspiring member threatened with possible expulsion if he wins office (Roy Moore of Alabama, accused of inappropriate relationships with teenage girls decades ago).

Morality and its counterpart, hypocrisy, are again front and center in the political debate. Moore is of course an outspoken evangelical Christian who rose to prominence after installing, and defying a federal court order to remove, a two-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama state courthouse. Franken is a proponent of Obama-era guidelines for handling sexual assault and harassment cases on college campuses, rules which curtail due-process rights for the accused.

We could indeed use more virtue in the public arena. Might I suggest an oft-forgotten one: humility.

Many a victorious candidate speaks of being “humbled” by the electorate’s approval. Too few maintain that sentiment once in office.

Power can do that. But so can all that goes with it: cameras and microphones, ritual and pomp, flattery and favor-seeking. All of this grows as one moves up the ladder. Some stay humble, but many don’t.

What takes humility’s place? Here are some guesses based on observation: Out-sized confidence in one’s ideas and their impact on thousands, millions, hundreds of millions of other people at a time. A sense of being indispensable, even irreplaceable. A notion that one’s mistakes, present or past, will remain conveniently unmentioned.

But the biggest threat to humility is that we, the voters, are inconsistent at best about demanding it.

We ask who can do the most, the fastest, once in office. We score debates based on who offers the zingiest one-liners, no matter how many words they might have to eat later. We have turned our elections — and the higher you go, the truer this is — into such warped spectacles that few people with healthy amounts of ambition and self-regard even dare to enter them.

Think about our last two presidents: Mr. “I’m LeBron, baby” and Mr. “I alone can fix it.”

Or consider the history of Roy Moore. Here is a man who calls himself a constitutional conservative, but who not once but twice was removed from the bench for refusing to submit to our constitutional order as it pertains to the judiciary.

He had the right to disagree with higher courts about religious displays in courthouses and same-sex marriage. He did not have the right to defy their orders. In the name of his principles, he became what he hated: an activist judge ignoring the rule of law.

There is nothing conservative about that. There is nothing constitutional about that. And there is nothing humble, or otherwise virtuous, about that. Yet here he is, perhaps on the verge of winning a statewide election for the third time.

Humility can be just an election away, but only if voters make sure of it.

Reader Comments 0

215 comments
RoadScholar
RoadScholar

Improve our politics?


How about voting FOR the American people instead of your donors? What guarantee do we have the rich and businesses will spend their money wisely...on salaries and benefits for their workers instead of jacking executive salaries, bonuses, or lining their and their politicians pockets ?

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

Time's dumbest.president.ever = Donald J Trump!

Woohoo. We have a winner! By a mile!

bendedknee
bendedknee

Not even Hannity believed  Moore's denial. His attorneys were paid to attack the victims and make stupid comments about their truthfulness. Moore has never denied trying to date teenage girls. 

His victims have never been compensated.



Conyers entered a binding settlement agreement with the victims for which they were paid. None were teens when accosted.This settlement included a confidentiality agreement. This was part of  Congressional policy for harassment cases. So are those victims now saying they want to pay the settlement back so they can talk?


Their is no equivalency of the two cases.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@bendedknee 

They don't need to talk because enough is already known. There is no equivalency because the tax payers had to pay the accusers hush money for Conyers, sexual abuse while none has been paid to Moore's accusers of unproven abuse. Also Conyers is a Democrat and evidently that entitles him to a pass for his proven sexual abuse in your opinion, while Moore is a Republican and so he should be found guilty on the basis of his party affiliation. Nice going you just proved your biased hypocrisy in spades.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I wonder if we'll see the same indignation for John Conyers as we've seen for Roy Moore on here.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit Conyers isn't an aggressive bible thumper. Nor is he an ex-judge who considers his religious beliefs above the law. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit 

Oh I see that makes him squeaky clean and innocent. Just a career politician above the law having the tax payers pay for his sexual misdeeds. LOL

Doomy
Doomy

@Starik @SGTGrit


Completely irrelevant points, particularly when the topic is whether or not someone should abdicate office on sexual harassment charges. 


Furthermore, Conyers has numerous recent charges against him. 


Moore has one allegation of consensual kissing and fondling with a 14 year old nearly 40 years ago. Its a he said she said. The other teenage girls were of consensual age. The second serious allegation is from a woman who claims he signed her yearbook as proof but who will not turn over the yearbook for forensic testing both on the date of the ink and as evidence to a handwriting expert. If she won't do that then she has no credibility with her claim. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Doomy @Starik @SGTGrit 

It has also come out that officials at the mall Moore supposedly frequented looking for teen aged females have no recollection of him being banned. I read the 14 year old's account of her encounter and found it less than credible. Moore may have been suffering during his early 30's from premature middle aged crises syndrome but after all of these years it's hard to imagine him being the sexual predator he has been made out to be. Conyers is a far different story.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Doomy @Starik It's likely Conyers and Moore are both scumbags as far as their sexual proclivities. The bible thumper adds religious lunacy to the mix. 

Doomy
Doomy

@SGTGrit @Doomy @Starik


Lotta fake news out there and sure enough the story about Moore being banned from the mall ended up being bogus. 


I was a bit suspicious of the 14 year old's story because it was inconsistent with the other women who said there was only kissing involved. And like I said the 5th woman, who came out very late, will not release the yearbook. It would appear that she is lacking in credibility.  And her story is the only one that accuses him of assault which again is totally inconsistent with what the others have said. 


I've gone back and forth on this one and now I'm back to thinking the 2 serious claims against him are lacking in credibility. 

Doomy
Doomy

@Starik @SGTGrit @Doomy


The 2 cases are not comparable. Moore's 2 accusers have some credibility gaps- particularly coming out nearly 40 years later. In the case of Conyers the accusations are not only numerous as well as recent but I think Congress had to settle several suits with hush money. Big difference. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @Doomy 

The problem with your argument is that "religious lunacy," however, you choose to quantify that label doesn't harm anyone.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @Doomy 

At least Christian religious over zealous behavior doesn't harm anyone. I failed to isolate radical Islamic lunacy.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Starik @Doomy True, zealous Christians aren't usually violent these days, except for Eric Rudolph types and Christian Identity and other way out groups but they are a risk to individual freedom. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @Doomy 

Wow you had to dig deeper than deep on those comparisons. Eric Rudolph is over 20 years back and I think he's doing hard time. Christian Identity isn't an organized Christian religion. Few people have even heard of them. Careful your atheist hate is showing.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

As the old adage goes, "Humility is the great equalizer of the coachable". Unfortunately, dems haven't been coachable for decades. They're incorrigible. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Finn-McCool 

Fascinating read, and from a site that's rated as one of the most extreme far-left biased on the internet. You should be embarrassed to display your own ignorant bias for providing the link.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @Finn-McCool 

Nope because I formulate my own views. Sites like alternet when used as a point of reference only prove the intrinsic gullibility of the far-left rank and file.

Doomy
Doomy

@Starik @SGTGrit @Finn-McCool


Seriously? I read part of that article. What a completely ridiculous piece of garbage writing. A whole series of unfounded allegations without any solid proof. The author is a helluva fiction writer. 

Starik
Starik

"It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence - IT WAS ME. - Trump. Just wow! Our humble President. 

bendedknee
bendedknee

Hard to have thanksgiving when you have a traitor in the white house who is trying his best to destroy the rule of law

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@bendedknee 

Don't worry you can enjoy your Thanksgiving the president who tried to destroy the rule of law vacated the White House back in January.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@Starik @SGTGrit @bendedknee  "...destroy the government..."

He actually wants to 'drain the swamp' to rescue the government.

Time to get a move on, after nearly one year the swamp appears to be unscathed.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Well Trump derangement syndrome is certainly in play here on the blog today. Happy Thanksgiving y'all.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit 

More like Trump policy supporters and you should keep your seat belt fastened because there's a lot of Trump policy supporters.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

So in this season of gratefulness and thankfulness, our president reminds us it was him and ONLY him that freed those UCLA basketball players and one of the players father Lavar Ball, is being a jerk by not thanking the benevolent president and saving is son from long term prison sentence.


The Wingfield approach of ignoring the president can only last so long. Wonder what the emotional affect Trump is having on this country of having a [insert whatever expletives here] president in the whitehouse.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle

Let us not forget it was Ball the father who started this by running his mouth against Trump during an ESPN interview.

Trump is, always has been, and all ways will be a counter puncher.

And on this issue Trump is correct and Ball an idiot of the highest order.

bendedknee
bendedknee

So on Thanksgiving do we thank people of conscience who speak out against child molesters even if it brings condemnation such as Ivanka Trump, and  Mitch McConnell  or do we go with a self obsessed misogynist pu-sy grabber who believes Vladmir Putin and Roy Moore and who thinks  Muslims,Hillary, Obama and  LaVar Ball are major threats to this country

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@bendedknee


Notice Trump was quick to tweet the death of border patrol agent to promote his wall agenda. Let it not be said Trump is an outsider, he plays the political slime-ball game just like all the other politicians.

Starik
Starik

@McGarnagle @bendedknee Add that to his personality disorders and his spoiled rich boy upbringing and you have a scary President. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Starik @McGarnagle @bendedknee

So you're scared?

I know the feeling, I was uneasy, not scared, during Obama's 8 years.

I was afraid we would be attacked and Obama would immediately surrender.

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @Starik @McGarnagle @bendedknee Now that's just stupid. Trump could start another war of choice, against Iran or North Korea. Maybe a nuclear war. He's also undermining out standing in the world.