Friday, February 10, 2006

It's About Competence Stupid

In July 1988, Mike Dukakis stood before the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta and declared:

“I don't think I have to tell any of you how much we Americans expect of ourselves.

Or how much we have a right to expect from those we elect to public office.

Because this election isn't about ideology. It's about competence.

It's not about overthrowing governments in Central America; it's about creating good jobs in middle America. That's what this election is all about.

It's not about insider trading on Wall Street; it's about creating opportunity on Main Street.

And it's not about meaningless labels. It's about American values. Old-fashioned values like accountability and responsibility and respect for the truth.

And just as we Democrats believe that there are no limits to what each citizen can do; so we believe there are no limits to what America can do.

And yes, I know, this fall, we're going to be hearing a lot of Republican talk about how well some neighborhoods and some regions of this country are doing; about how easy it is for some families to buy a home or to find childcare or to pay their doctor's bills or to send their children to college.”
Substitute the “Mid-East” for “Central America” and very little has changed in eighteen years. Governor Dukakis was ridiculed at the time for walking away from ideology. The recent revelations about Hurricane Katrina in today’s New York Times and elsewhere powerfully illustrate that competence is an indispensable baseline for ideology. Incompetent governments staff agencies with cronies instead of skilled professionals. They’re regulated by lies to preserve power instead of empowering the citizens they’re supposed to serve with education, health care, a strong economy, and a sensible national security policy. Leaders of incompetent governments are more concerned with “loyalty” from their minions and ferreting out dissent that threatens to expose their lies instead of delivering for the people.

So the message for ’06 and ’08 can be summed up this way: it’s about competence stupid. If you want education, healthcare, jobs, genuine national security, fiscal responsibility, shared sacrifice, an environmental policy based on science, truth and accountability than elect the party that respects government. Public service is for serious people not chuckleheads that regard it as a patronage mill and their own personal candy store. President Clinton wasn’t nearly as progressive as I would have liked but at least his bureaucracy was staffed with high skilled professionals that he listened to. This President can’t even be roused from his vacation to save lives in an emergency. The legacy of this incompetence is an unprecedented reign of indecency. It’s time to hold those guilty of empowering the reign of indecency accountable.


pansophia said...

A CEO job is not a presidential qualification.

Bush took the crony approach to hiring because this is the way things are done in corporations. Many of the people in highly placed, influential jobs have twinkie fluff for brains. And worse, they use their influence so everyone around them and below them will also be idiots who "accept the way things are done".

One of the things I blame for this is the rise of personality testing and the growing use of subjective criteria for both interviewing and performance review. The ostensible purpose is to create a "workplace culture" where people "share values" and succeed if they're a "good fit". The reality is subjective criteria dramatically increases the discretionary powers of managers, leading to arbitrary and ultimately corrupt judgment. President Bush examplifies the problem. If we understand why he shouldn't be president, then we should also understand why we need a new round of corporate reform.

jay lassiter said...

outstanding post.