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No joy, despite great fortune 

Editor's note: The following have been submitted by Indy readers, unedited, un-fact-checked, and presented in whole. Join the conversation in the comment section below, or via email to letters@csindy.com.

Dear Editor,

I am grateful that I was not born a poor, black lesbian with a gene propensity for hair loss, facial warts, and obesity.
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No, I came out as the well-off, white, tall, blue-eyed blond, in perfect health model.

The world would have treated that pretend me, or any portion of that me, differently than it has the real me. Even though I may be an idiot and that other a genius.

Never having suffered prejudice is only part of my feeling endlessly lucky. I have the perfect wife and friend, I have never gone hungry or thirsty, never broken a bone, or spent a day in a hospital's bed.

More than that, I am rich. Not that any money has made me so, but because I have so much of so many things. Piled on top of my good fortunes are cell phones, cars, televisions, pets, movies, travel, lattes, and other magical diversions that every all-powerful leader from Genghis Khan to Queen Victoria would never know of or imagine possible.

I not only have all these things—most of my fellow citizens have these things.

Jobs, salaries, health care, even our life spans are moving up yet, my spirit, sense of contentment and well-being—even my amount of sleep— diminish. Why can I not get more joy from my extraordinary good fortune?

Is it because I toil in the soft vulnerable underbelly of our civic life: politics? Working at Vote Smart shoves injustice in your face, makes one observe and monitor the better angels of our natures being smothered in the odious selfishly partisan fogs brought on by our leaders. Leaders who would have us step on the gains made by the hardest working amongst us, or continue crushing those most disadvantaged to sustain dominance.

From where I stand the President and Congress are perfect. They spot on represent the collective ethics, morality and honesty of the modern-day Americans that voted for them. We are the boss, we did hire them, this is democracy.

Yet we all see that with most of our current applicants you can sum up their attitude and job interview with the single quote most feel compelled to monotonously repeat, "Me, me, me, only me. Everyone else is a jerk!"

No matter what you believe, or what your profession, your answer to any applicant for any other job that said that, would be "Hell NO!"

Perhaps we should be selecting leaders who do not crave a job as a leader of the free world. Are we not capable of engaging qualified people who would rather not have the job, but if asked to lead would do so in their nation's interest? Would we not then almost certainly elect more responsible, more honorable leaders?

If so, why accept the behavior of modern political applicants for the most important jobs on earth? They simply trash each other at the expense of any honor they may have had. Can we not yet step self-governance forward and enable ourselves to choose leaders of a different cast?

Whether you are conservative or liberal, "We the People" all have the same desire as employers: We want to do our job, take charge and hire people of integrity and proven skills, something that is almost impossible in today's political culture.

New technologies, combined with today's almost unlimited sources of data, give us the ability to track everything about almost anyone: Where they go, what they purchase, what they own, where they've been, what they've done, who they call, what they say, who their friends are, even the status of their health. Someone can find out all this about you, but hopefully they aren't all that interested yet.

All that technical ability is at "The People's" disposal should they choose to use it on those we select to have the most important jobs on earth.

VoteSmart.org had a crazy idea decades ago, when these abilities did not exist. Using students and volunteers Vote Smart has tracked and recorded politicians' public records: biographical details, votes, issue positions, public comments, contributors, endorsements, every special interest rating. They present the data they have collected in various tools that make it easy for citizens to see what factual background exists on each politician by subject area, but only in the areas that can be manually collected, entered and managed.

These efforts are crude, slow and cannot expose the facts as quickly as our modern candidates push lies, or what we now call "alternative facts." So lies win, facts suffer and reality dissolves in the mess they make.

We, of course, cannot govern ourselves successfully that way. When lies become acceptable a free people will not remain free long. So why not take charge, use the technical tools available to track every applicant and expose facts and truth in real time?

Maybe then we could attract honorable, supremely-qualified candidates for higher office who, in the current climate, are not willing to offer themselves for public service, not willing to subject themselves or their families to the gratuitous attacks on character, not willing to be a participant in such destructive behavior. Behavior that currently characterizes the conduct of almost all those grasping for the power to run our lives.

Richard Kimball
Vote Smart President

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