By CHRIS FOX, Associate Editor, Product Design & Development (PD&D)
Maybe it’s the way our society is turning or perhaps it’s because I’ve become a seasoned voter, but there is a drastic disconnect between us (the normal masses of the United States) and politicians. Why such a disconnect? I think a part of it has to do with profession. This is not necessarily a class issue, but rather what all of us do for a living versus what our politicians do or did before they were in office.
As a general rule, politicians are big-time businessmen, bankers or lawyers (often some combination of those). This isn’t to say they all have these professions (I’m sure there are some black sheep), but the vast majority fall into these three professional demographics. Herein lies what I would consider one of our biggest problems. Our government is run by a bunch of philosophers.
There are currently six engineers, one chemist, one physicist, and one microbiologist in all of congress — all of whom are in the house. To break that down, that means that deductive thinkers make up a measly 1.7 percent of congress — hardly enough to make a noise, let alone a majority. Just some food for thought, there are also four radio talk show hosts and three radio/television broadcasters in congress. Interesting how radio personalities have nearly as much pull as the engineers and scientists in congress. (Source)
Now, don’t get me wrong, philosophers are important (plus they’re cool dudes with entertaining haircuts). In fact, I have a minor in philosophy, but that doesn’t negate the fact that too many abstract thinkers can cloud judgment. Philosophers are great at living in the grey, which is ideal for a politician, but that can be detrimental for a society. We all live in some sort of grey with morality, ethics and personal decisions, but when it comes to the country, decisions need to be made. Instead, our parliament of philosophers jab, politicize and talk until the rest of us are so bored or frustrated that we give up on caring.
I believe a few more engineers, scientists and mathematicians floating around the senate and house would make for a much different system. Arguments may arise over a whole different set of issues, but I think a new level of practicality would be presented to the government with the inclusion of a different set of minds.
To break it down; Philosophers often approach an idea or concept with more questions and an array of possibilities for many different approaches; whereas an engineer would (ideally) approach a political idea driven by usability and plausibility. There is a different method of divided logic that engineers take to any end; separating plausibility from ideology. Where their philosophizing brethren try to weigh everything on the same plate, engineers would be ready to scrap any idea (or vein of an idea) if it showed a likelihood of failure.
Many of our founding fathers were philosophers, but they were also scientists. In fact, back then scientists were sometimes known as physical philosophers. Basically, the smartest of the smart, whether it was in math, science, morality or ethics, were put into power. Today our politicians have a mold to fit, and they don’t necessarily have to be smart (at least beyond their political premise) to match those molds.
What I know, as a voter, is that Obama is a lawyer and Romney is a banker. What does a banker or a lawyer know about running a country full of hard-working, practical thinkers? They can chat about the Aristotelian ideals or the Epicurean premise that we might strive for, which are important ideas, but then they lose the notions of a functioning, plausible government. We need more politicians coming from a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) background to make this country function properly — maybe even a new party. Then again, maybe there is a reason that the deducing, practical, realistic folks don’t go into politics.
What’s your take? Please feel free to comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.