Windsock Nation

It started with the budding Harris Organization incorrectly predicting that Thomas Dewey would beat Harry Truman in the 1948 Presidential Election. Lord knows where it will end. Americans love pollsters. It’s unthinkable to imagine a representative who does not query the community to determine what s/he should do. We’ve become a windsock nation.

This practice is not all bad, though it has significantly shifted the political climate. The original framers of the constitution envisioned a government run by elected representatives, people governing according to their own judgment. The electorate would choose based upon character, then, having chosen, let that character represent them.

Today’s elected representatives need not have character, but they must have a polling organization. They need not bring judgment, other than the judgment a windsock exhibits when it submits to the breeze.

So we see political directions shifting faster than a tango dancer’s. We see long-standing policies right-face or left-face or even pivot backwards, promoted by nothing more permanent than a slight shift in the wind.

When a Harvard University researcher interviewed some of the world’s most successful designers, the results were clear. None of them ask their customers what they want. Why? One responded, “Because they don’t know.” Nobody could know, that’s why the framers put their trust in character and judgment, not popular opinion.

I consider it to be my civic duty to lie to pollsters. I also try to keep them on the line as long as possible, to slow them up. When they ask a twisted question, I ask them what the question means, how others have answered, what use my response will be put to. When they use purposefully provocative terms, I question their meaning. I do whatever I can do to avoid becoming just another meaningless statistic. I’ve worked with statistical analysis long enough to understand just how unreliable it is.

Who do my representatives think they are, sniffing the wind instead of their judgment? Day-to-day, democracy should not be about voting to see which way the wind is blowing. The most important decisions are inevitably the most unpopular, and the most necessary. If my nose is out of joint about half the time, I figure it’s working.

A government trying to satisfy all the electorate all the time is no government at all.


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