Are politicians stupid and/or incompetent?
I hear this a lot. Shoot, I've even been known to say it myself. But, when I slow down and think about what it is they do, and how they do it, and why they do it, I honestly cannot come to that conclusion. In fact, I think they're brilliant. Evilly brilliant. Masterful in deception. Opportunists of the highest degree.
Bottom line: Politicians play us like the proverbial fiddle. And we keep falling for it. Yeah, we piss and moan and complain, then go out and re-elect the same ones over and over again. They know we're not happy, but they also know where the line is that they cannot cross that might actually spur us to action. They do enough to give us a comfortable life, so we get more upset over Twinkies disappearing from store shelves than we do from the outright theft of civil asset forfeiture (as just one example).
Yes, there are some of us who see through it. Unfortunately, we're such a small percentage that we're pretty much disregarded.
We're suckers. They know it. They leverage that fact to their benefit. We let them. If anybody is stupid and/or incompetent, it is us.
Note: Most references to "we" and "us" are meant to be generic for society overall. Not any one specific person.