"The most significant threat to our national security is our debt," Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 27,2010

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Question Authority

It is a fundamental of a republic form of government. Question authority.   It is a fundamental of a democratic form of government.  Authority must be constantly questioned. Constantly challenged.  Constantly made uncomfortable for the sole purpose of demanding and forcing it to do better; to change; to improve.  The concepts of speaking truth to power and questioning power are well established.  Frequently the follow through has fallen short – badly short. 

Who questions authority?  Anyone.  Anyone with some discipline.  Discipline meaning research, analysis, evaluation; anyone who is open to critique and suggestion.  It is not just journalists and writers and columnists and historians.

When the historians evaluate the presidencies of the incumbent and his two predecessors, ask yourself this question:  Will the historians conclude that these three men were always pursued with intelligent questions based on research and analysis – forced to question themselves; their policies; their decisions and their results?  Were they pushed to always examine the consequences of their plans and actions or were they given a free ride by an accommodating rather than skeptical audience?  Also, were they held to objective measurements?

Whose job is it to question authority in our country?  Is authority being effectively challenged?  First let’s ask, who is this “authority” to which we refer?  Is it Mitt Romney?  Hardly, Mitt has no power; no position; no job; no authority whatsoever at all. Is it the guy or gal in your district or your state running for office?  Trying to win a school board seat or sheriff badge or a job on the city council?  Or is the guy/gal who is in the job now and is trying to hold onto the job?

Our answer is the same as it was for Mr. Romney.  It is not the challenger that needs to be the primary focus of questioning and challenging.  It is the job holder; the incumbent; the sitting president or representative or judge or mayor or sheriff.

When the historians write their books; do their analysis; tally up the facts and figures and then find that the incumbent was neither doing a good job nor being challenged about the job they were doing, at whom will they point the finger of responsibility?  The president or governor or mayor who got the pass – was always treated comfortably by the media and the reporters and the bloggers and columnists?  Or the media and reporters and bloggers and columnists who didn’t do their job?  Will they write that by not challenging these office holders they neither did their readers nor the incumbent any favors? 

A catchy phrase that many self anointed journalists like to embrace in describing their job goes something like this – we are in the business of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.  Would that it be so.  We’ve got news for them.  They are not doing their job well at all.  Their inclination toward discomfort seems to be misapplied – it is aimed at the challengers; not the incumbents.  That means they will get poor marks from the historians.  Even worse, the incumbents have actually been cheated in the process.  They deserve much better questioning because it is required it they are to improve, change and do a good job.  The incumbents are not doing a good job and they are not being made uncomfortable.

So to our friends in the media, Hollywood and otherwise, remember your mission – always question authority.  You are not doing your job if you do not make authority your primary focus and you are not helping authority by giving them a pass.  All you are doing is assisting in creating the messes that we find in places like Chicago and Springfield, Illinois; Sacramento, California and Washington DC.  Focus on the people in power.   They should not be your friends. 

Always question authority.


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