In the 2008 recording of National Public Radio (NPR), commentator Russell Roberts said, “I treat the rhetoric of politicians like ads for anchovy ice cream. Call me a cynic, but I assume they’re trying to make a sale.”1
Every year, we hear wealthy politicians making promises to the people of middle or lower class on better wages, improved working conditions, controlled economy, and overall, words that seem to echo what the voters want to see.
But, this is often an illusion made from countless random numbers from the polls. Wealthy politicians usually apply empty rhetoric based on what they think are important to the people without really knowing what they want.
For example, some prosperous politicians often fail at their attempt to represent people from rural areas because many of them have grown from cities or suburban areas, graduated from prestigious universities in metropolitan areas (as opposed to many people who have lived their entire lives in the farms), and studied politics mostly from textbooks than from people. Whether it was intentional or not, the remarks by these types of politicians then become mostly “talks.” There is no point behind all these talks because they simply recite the speeches written by advisers, who also grew from similar background, to win the election. Because they do not truly understand what the life is like for the real people, other than based on numbers and some “studies”, then it is fair to assume that they are certainly able to fail on making correct representations to all the people.
Occasionally, however, we see wealthy politicians who try to oppose this depressing trend and manage to provide a fair representation to all the people. These politicians, in short, are more than just “talks.”
For instance, they actually travel to the rural areas, and instead of just giving a fancy speech at Marriott Hotel, they choose to go to people’s workplace, visit their offices, and follow them during their work schedule. These politicians don’t try to tell the people what they think the people want. Instead, they patiently learn from the workers by listening, seeing and talking about the works they perform everyday. They also converse with the workers at this time to answer what are their major worries at work, at home, or just a concern about current economy and society in general.
In addition to that, some wealthy politicians have went out of the comfort zone of advisers to seek qualified individuals who grew up in different environments to join other advisers. These politicians do not make this decision just to generate some votes, but more importantly, they do so to learn more about the area that they wouldn’t otherwise.
The difference between wealthy politicians who are capable of providing a fair representation to all people and those who are not comes down to their physical actions and choices of advisers. As described for those who are capable, wealthy politicians must go beyond their air-conditioned office to do what the people do in everyday life and talk with them. They must also do this continuously and rely more on the words of people than just the numbers they see in the polls.
Furthermore, their choice of advisers must surpass the desire for cronyism and include qualified individuals from various backgrounds – some from cities, others from rural areas, and so on. Of course, all individuals should meet the qualifications desired for that position, but an action must be done to look out for these individuals. Otherwise, wealthy politicians will simply pick the members that are closest to them, which tend to refer to those in similar background as themselves.
A fair representation, therefore, can only come when those two stipulations are upheld, and as colonial Americans argued, the voters who suffer from empty-worded wealthy politicians should cry out aloud, “No taxation without [fair] representation!”
1 National Public Radio, “Take Politicians’ Promises With a Pound of Salt,” NPR Commentary section. 20 Feb., 2008. Accessed 30 Jul., 2010. Transcript and audio available at: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19218225