Smart Ideas: Why Politicians Should Curse More

Hand-puppets depicting British Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at a protest in front of the Houses of Parliament on June 8, election day in London
AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
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June 12, 2017, 8 p.m.

Surely the UK can do better than this

The Ed­it­ors, writ­ing for The Eco­nom­ist

“For most of the 20th cen­tury Brit­ish polit­ics has en­joyed an em­bar­rass­ment of riches [as] Bri­tain’s com­pet­ing elites dir­ec­ted their most gif­ted off­spring to­wards Par­lia­ment. … Today it is as if Bri­tain’s vari­ous elites have all de­cided, at ex­actly the same time, to stop send­ing their best people to Par­lia­ment.” Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have proven them­selves “flawed cap­tains of flawed teams.” On the Left, so many qual­i­fied MPs deem Corbyn un­fit that La­bour is left with a B-team of shad­ow sec­ret­ar­ies. “On the right, Brexit has hol­lowed out the party,” with its more cap­able politi­cians hav­ing left in dis­grace. But there’s yet an­oth­er reas­on why UK parties fail to field their best teams: “Over the past 30 years polit­ics has be­come a pro­fes­sion. Yes­ter­day’s tribunes of the people, or at least of the people’s lead­ing in­terest groups, have been re­placed by pro­fes­sion­als who make their live­li­hood out of polit­ics.”

Pentagon management hurts veterans' job prospects

Timothy Kane, writ­ing for the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion

Re­cent De­fense sec­ret­ar­ies Robert Gates and Ashton Carter both pegged the per­son­nel sys­tem as one of their main con­cerns about the armed forces. “Neutered com­mand au­thor­ity over per­son­nel de­cisions makes it dif­fi­cult to match the right people with the right jobs” and com­prom­ises read­i­ness. What’s worse, the mil­it­ary’s cent­ral­ized sys­tem of “job match­ing” hurts vet­er­ans’ job pro­spects. “In blunt terms, some of the na­tion’s most tal­en­ted young men and wo­men are on act­ive duty but nev­er em­powered to take—and in fact are dis­cour­aged from tak­ing—an act­ive role in ap­ply­ing their unique skills to the mil­it­ary’s needs.”

Then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in 2016 AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

GOP loyalty to Trump runs shallow

Mar­tin Long­man, writ­ing for Wash­ing­ton Monthly

Don’t be so quick to as­sume that a Re­pub­lic­an Con­gress will nev­er im­peach Pres­id­ent Trump. In­vest­ig­a­tions are pro­ceed­ing apace in mul­tiple com­mit­tees. But more im­port­antly, “Re­pub­lic­ans have very little use for Trump at this point,” as his agenda con­tin­ues to sput­ter and stall. And the fear that in­di­vidu­al mem­bers have of be­ing primar­ied from the right pales next to the fear of los­ing the ma­jor­ity as Trump drags them down. “The forces that want Trump gone are simply far more power­ful than the forces that want him to stay, and the bal­ance will keep mov­ing away from Trump un­til his thin line of de­fense breaks.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

In praise of foul language in politics

Jeet Heer, writ­ing for The New Re­pub­lic

From angry Demo­crats such as Thomas Perez and Kirsten Gil­librand to tele­vised pun­dits to the pres­id­ent him­self, curs­ing has been bub­bling up to the un­censored sur­face in polit­ics lately. It’s not sur­pris­ing: “The word ‘vul­gar­ity’ is rooted in the Lat­in term for ‘the mul­ti­tude,’” and those who wish to ap­peal to com­mon folks in­stead of the staid rul­ing classes can use it to es­tab­lish their bona fides. Curs­ing also “means you are rar­ing for a fight. … The new wave of swear­ing isn’t the cause of a break­down in ci­vil­ity, but a symp­tom of a na­tion­al crisis. … The only prop­er re­sponse is a full-scale at­tack on the polit­ic­al sys­tem, which re­quires ral­ly­ing the pub­lic by let­ting them know just how foul things are—a task best ac­com­plished with foul lan­guage.”


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