The Elmer Fudd syndrome

Guest Columnist

The author James Lee Burke in an interview was asked “What should a man know about government?”

His reply: “I was a journalist, and every journalist learns the lesson: When we hear about bad guys in government, we always identify them with the “Prince Of Darkness”. The guy is demonic until we meet him. And instead of Satan, we discover we’re talking to Elmer Fudd. The banality is just mind-numbing”.

In American politics,  Republican and Democratic action committees choose candidates to place on ballots for elections. This procedure is in place for federal, state and local politicos. These political action committees chose only those candidates who will perpetuate the agendas of their respective parties. Since funding comes from these action committees, the incumbent office holders suggest to the various action committees whom they might want to fund, thus effectively choosing who the future candidates will be. As we all know, you can only vote for a person who has been nominated for office.

This practice guarantees the status quo will not be stressed enough to fracture itself. There are always enough incumbents to shush those few voices who try to speak out against all the Elmer Fudd’s who continue to cycle and recycle the same empty suits we all know and wish we did not know. This continual inbreeding brings ineffective leadership.

In this cyclical dance, they further cement their own views, creating a more and more intellectually insular and professionally self-protective environment. They forgive one another their mistakes, and mediocrity becomes cozy. The evolution of this form of stewardship is not meritocratic.

Our institutions suffer from the “closed system” mentality that stretches through governments, tenured educational institutions, unions, civil service. the health professions, sports, all large corporations, and so on. A free press was the last failsafe we had against closed systems. Now, “THE MEDIA”, whether it be print media, television or social media, consists of only talking heads with their opinions and biases. These talking heads have registered the final blow to responsible journalism. Any hope the public has of getting enough facts to make informed decisions is in the hands of “Elmer Fudd”.

Our institutions serve as a haven for managers and stewards who are neither particularly competent nor scrupulous. This good old-boy network exists because the very nature of a closed system perpetuates the network through inbreeding. Decades of this practice has led to the degradation of our local, regional and federal governments, as well as the above mentioned institutions. Remember the quote from “Elmer Fudd”? When all the Elmers passed a 2,000 page healthcare bill, they opined “Good, now that it has passed, we can find out what is in the bill”.

Today and in the future, long managerial stewardships will have to decrease if we are to remain the “land of the free and the home of the brave” or just another failed progressive experiment.  As our public officials continue to disregard our protestations of their present behavior, the scrutiny under which traditional long-term stewardships are placed becomes more intense. The continued emotional and financial funding of our present group of stewards loses its appeal with each passing day.

How can we improve the quality of the stewardships in our existing institutions? We know that we cannot begin anew, nor can we throw out the baby with the bathwater. The investment we have in our existing institutions is tremendous. They simply cannot be abandoned.

Structural changes are the fresh path for our present stewards to pursue. Throughout our land, there are examples of restructured institutions which work. They are found more often in the private sector and in the form of small businesses. They are decidedly not found in established corporations and governments. Maybe it is time for the public sector to take some guidance from those folks who sign the front of a paycheck.

With the continuing discussions about term limits, elimination of tenure within the whole of the educational system, continuing loss of membership in labor unions, reductions in membership to professional organizations, such as the American Medical Association, American Dental Association, American Bar Association and other trade associations, show that confidence in our institutions is diminishing.

Gaining in favor are organizations that are closer to home and more responsive to local wants and needs. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other internet phenomena are replacing traditional print media, and streaming devices are replacing traditional television. Unfortunately, none of these new modalities has the requirement to be accurate, subsequently, they are suffused with frivolous nonsense or irresponsible lies. Regional and local political organizations are springing to life all about us. These groups are specific in topic, local in nature and can require far less time for one to be an active participant in their activities than their large analog predecessors.

We really need to have a good sit down with Elmer Fudd and see if we can find a way to encourage him to cease and desist. Elmer has not served us well!

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