How Politics Really Works

By Leo Gura - July 4, 2024

The following is one of realist explanations of how American politics works, from Rick Wilson, a former Republican political strategist. The key to understanding American politics is to realize how utterly shameless, stupid, cynical, and corrupt the whole thing is. It’s pure manipulation for the sake of power and riches. This is what progressives don’t understand. Progressives treat politics as if it’s about doing some higher good. Meanwhile conservatives treat politics as an opportunity for personal profit and power. Grasping the cynicism of it is critical, because you are not dealing with honest actors, you are dealing with shameless Machiavellian manipulators.

One of the biggest challenges I had for a long time in my life in trying to understand politics is that I assumed everyone in this game was like me, an honest actor who cared about truth and what’s best for society. I didn’t realize how utterly shameless and intellectually bankrupt most people are. It took me years to realize this, but now that I do all of American politics makes so much sense. I just didn’t think people were that shameless. Sometimes the shamelessness and shallowness of people astounds me. But to them it’s just an average day.

It truly is astonishing how fundamentally broken most people’s attitude toward the government is. Just utterly irresponsible, unconscious, ignorant, and selfish. Of course a government and a society cannot function with that kind of attitude. Government is not magic, it only works when people of serious character make huge sacrifices to make it work. You can’t make government good by blaming others, or trying to push your ideology onto others, or trying to benefit yourself, your tribe, or your organization. That’s what makes government bad.

A government can only function to the degree that its citizenry is mature, responsible, wise, truthful, selfless, and conscious. There is no hack around this. The government’s corruption is a direct reflection of the citizenry’s personal corruption. The only reason the government is corrupt is because the citizenry is corrupt. A corrupt citizenry is literally incapable of electing a good human being into power. The corruption isn’t a bug, it’s a feature! Corrupt people cannot stand purity and truth.

The greatest mistake and illusion of populism is the idea that the average citizen is not responsible for the bad functioning of government. No! The average citizen is directly responsible, but because they are so negligent in their responsibility you cannot tell them this truth, you must pander to them and point the finger as some “elite”, which is exactly what keeps the government bad. To truly improve our government every citizen would first have to take personal responsibility for how they contribute to the problem.

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