A poster that appeared on my Facebook page said, in caps (a sure sign that the message is geared toward the lowest common denominator):


On the top of the post it says, “Shared Proud Democrat’s Photo.”

Shouldn’t Democrats know better than to blame politicians for perceived economic woes? Would not “Shared Proud Libertarian’s Photo” or “Shared Proud Republican’s Photo” be closer to the truth?

Could any thinking person blame “politicians” for Maine’s $7.50 minimum wage? Seven-fifty is about $2.88 below what we are told is a “living wage.” And because men and women have to work two jobs to get by, we should blame politicians? All they’re doing is voting for the interests of the money that got them elected.

We see this poster as a brilliant piece of propaganda by those who would find a whipping boy for Corporate America. For, say what you will, the super-rich are far from being fools.

This poster could easily have been generated by the likes of the Heritage Foundation or the American Legislative Exchange Council (which produces and mails to state legislatures “model bills” that would benefit huge corporations). A finger is cleverly pointed at “politicians” so our hardworking blue-collar neighbors will not look for the people behind the curtain who, since time eternal, have quietly worked to keep wages down and wars going full swing.

This poster is one more example of the battle for our minds that, over the years, has moved from newspapers to radio and now onto our computers and smartphones. The word “smartphone” itself is somewhat of an oxymoron: So often, it is no more than a vehicle to circulate outright lies or to distort or obfuscate reality.

Can you think of any misfortune that is not presently blamed on politicians?

“My 16-year-old daughter is expecting …”

“Well, it’s them politicians won’t allow birth control classes and materials in your school. How was the kid to know?”

“Excuse me, you didn’t let me finish. My 16-year-old daughter is expecting again.”

Or, “When my husband took sick, the hospital cleaned out everything we’d saved in a lifetime. He went into the nursing home, and that’s when we had to sell the house and move in with my sister.”

“It’s the politicians. They won’t vote for that single-payer universal health care thing.”

The last I knew, politicians were elected by you and me and our neighbors. All of the people in the U.S. Congress are there only because we voted to put them there.

Why do so many unhappy people find comfort in pointing fingers in a country where you can finally carry a semiautomatic weapon in your shopping cart?

And why did thousands vote for Ted Cruz, a man who, in any progressive country, would be medicated or institutionalized? How can a phenomenon like Ted Cruz or Paul LePage happen in a country where everybody has opposable thumbs?

The people in Sweden and Finland have good governments because the people in Sweden and Finland are not blessed with Fox News and dozens of little Glenn Becks on the radio 24/7 encouraging people to vote against their own economic interests.

True, the people in northern Europe are better educated than we are, but that was their decision, too. My wife’s Dutch nieces and nephews graduated from college without owing the banks their wages for the next 10 or 15 years, because the Dutch realize that there is value in an educated citizenry.

So the next time you see posters blaming politicians for the potholes in the road and the overflowing prisons for profit, follow the money. Ask yourself which corporate entities moved into town on the condition that they pay little or no taxes. And if these corporations pay no taxes, ask yourself who then steps up to pay to fill the potholes on your favorite roads.

Compare the recidivism rate between state prisons and prisons for profit and ask yourself which of the two you’d rather have graduating inmates into your neighborhood.

Earlier today, I mentioned to my brother that we live in the best of places in the best of times. But I’ve lived in northern Europe. And because I continue to communicate with my friends and relatives about conditions there, I know that you and I could make our country so much better.

We might start by refocusing our dislike of “politicians.” Instead of vilifying them, let’s sit back and ask ourselves who put up the money for their campaigns that got them elected. Let’s ask who owns and operates the ubiquitous noise machine that tells us all for whom we should vote.

If we want to make our town and state and country better places in which to live, wouldn’t it be a good idea to vote for politicians who actually want the electorate to be educated? After that, everything falls into place.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website: