Should politicians be qualified? article by Dr. Sam Goldstein

Last month I recorded and posted a short Tik Tok video on my page, @CommonSenseScience, about politicians. I started this page a few months ago to inform the general public about issues related to mental health throughout the lifespan. I have spent my career attempting to separate science from non-science and just plain nonsense. It is my belief that wrong information is more harmful than no information. As the world wide web has grown, so too has the proliferation of wrong, sometimes very convincing, information. Tik Tok is one of those sites in which the only qualification needed to be an “expert” is an account. I didn’t start my page to offer political commentary. In fact, my short political commentary was unplanned, just a way of “warming up” before recording my ideas. However, when we were finished that day, my friend operating the camera suggested we post it as recorded. Imagine my surprise when within a month that short, contemporaneous video had 2.5 million views, five times greater than any other of my posts!

For those of you that have not viewed this post I will explain the primary point I was trying to make. I concluded, given the importance of what they do impacting all of our lives, politicians should be required to earn a degree in politics or a related area of study, take and pass an exam about issues related to the work of politicians, complete an internship, and be indemnified, meaning carry liability insurance. Given the state of our current political climate and the adverse impact on citizens as a consequence of the decisions made by our politicians, I suggested politicians should not be immune from responsibility for their actions. Truth be told I wasn’t totally serious about my suggestions. I am aware of the limitations to these ideas. For example, do we truly have a democracy if only certain citizens can be elected to political office? While there are many “career politicians” like President Biden and former President Obama, others choose political office later in their lives and careers, like former President Trump, the late Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and even George Washington.

Another equally important role of a democracy is to protect the health and welfare of its citizens. It doesn’t come as a surprise therefore that any job from food service to medicine requires a minimal level of training, licensure and training. So why not politicians? In fact, after posting my idea I learned that in 2017 former politician and Canadian citizen Wesley William Craig self-published a book titled W.C. Democracy outlining his eleven solutions to “provide a peaceful means to immediately restore Freedom and Democracy to the world”. Craig proposed the idea of a political license as well as his thoughts on ways to address election fraud, fake news and political corruption among his eleven solutions. You will have to read it yourself to decide if these ideas are feasible.

I don’t possess eleven solutions or even one for that matter to address the mess our current politicians have created because of their beliefs and often wrong ideas. In our recent book Tenacity, Bob Brooks and I suggest that the greatest risk to our future are mistaken beliefs, fear of difference and an aggressive response to real or perceived threat. These three instincts are in our genes. They have helped us survive as a Homo Sapiens for tens of thousands of years and our human ancestors for millions of years. Our human society and culture continue to move at a frenetic speed. Accompanying rapid advances have been equally developing adversities, many of our own making. The evolution of technology races ahead at breakneck speeds. I worry that this frenetic speed is quickly outpacing our human capacity to cope and adapt, to harness and effectively utilize our instincts not just to survive but to thrive.

Perhaps there is no viable solution to save mankind. This is what happens to all organized societies over time. Our instincts eventually lead to conflict, chaos and ultimately our downfall. However, I am not ready to give up just yet. I continue to be cautiously optimistic that as our understanding of ourselves and our place in the Universe expands, we will find the means to better understand ourselves and prepare the next generations to lead us into a promising, though not likely, perfect future. The strength of my conviction is drawn not just from the knowledge I possess, but from the thousands of children and families from whom I have learned time and time again about the resiliency and creativity of the human spirit. ◆

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