John Stossel: Why politicians are important (and dangerous)

My Fox News colleagues are in Cleveland, diligently interviewing Republicans. Next week, they’ll interview Democrats. I’m glad they do it — because I despise most politicians.

There are exceptions, of course, but after years of reporting, I’ve concluded that most politicians have little to say that’s interesting, and many are craven opportunists, desperate to rule over others.

A few stand out, like former Congressman Anthony Weiner. Like many politicians, he’s never held a real job. He’s run for office or worked for politicians all his life.

Weiner married one of Hillary Clinton’s closest advisers, passionately pushed leftists’ bad ideas and was a member of Congress.

Then a photo of an anonymous man’s bulging underwear was tweeted from his account. He ended up having to resign from Congress.

That embarrassment alone would send most mortals into hiding, but not Weiner. He decided to campaign for mayor of New York City, and New York’s Democrats even forgave him. Polls showed he was the front-runner.

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Then came more sleazy stuff. He sent out naked pictures under the name “Carlos Danger.”

A new documentary, “Weiner,” chronicles these events. “This really is a great movie,” says’s Anthony Fisher. It illustrates “how sick this drive for elective office can be.”

In the movie, NBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asks Weiner, “What’s wrong with you?” Weiner doesn’t even understand the question. O’Donnell elaborates, “you cannot seem to imagine a life without elective office?” Weiner still doesn’t get it.

Maybe one needs to be sick to run for office. Weiner is a disciple of New York senator Chuck Schumer.

Schumer famously said, “I was born to legislate.” This goes to the heart of the political sickness — the need to tell others how to live. As economist Walter Williams puts it, “I respect ordinary thieves more than I respect politicians. Ordinary thieves take my money without pretense. (They don’t) insult my intelligence by proclaiming that they’ll use the money that they steal from me to make my life better.”

In the next weeks, as cameras record every utterance burped up by politicians at the political conventions, I’ll take comfort knowing that when politicians can’t force  us to do things, people often ignore them (remember, government is force; this is why politicians are important, and dangerous).

Here’s another happy story about people ignoring them.

After Anthony Weiner sleazed himself into oblivion, another clueless socialist, Bill de Blasio, was elected mayor of New York. De Blasio embraces every leftist cause. After the restaurant chain Chick-fil-A was attacked by Democratic interest groups because its CEO opposes gay marriage, de Blasio told New Yorkers not to eat there. He said Chick-fil-A spreads a “message of hate” and “wouldn’t urge any other New Yorkers to patronize them.”

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a boycott. Boycotts are free speech, a way to voice disapproval without getting government involved.

Some craven politicians misunderstand that concept. Boston’s mayor declared that Chick-fil-A was “not welcome” in his town, and some Chicago politicians said they would deny Chick-fil-A the necessary permits. After the politicians were told that they don’t have a legal right to ban businesses because of things the owners say, they backed down. They just pushed the boycott.

When politicians support boycotts without using the power of their office to boycott by force, we get to see whether the public really cares what politicians think.

So at lunchtime recently, I walked around to see if (mostly pro-gay marriage) New Yorkers were honoring our mayor’s request.


In fact, at two Chick-fil-A outlets close to my office, customers lined up to get sandwiches. At one restaurant, the line was so long that it extended outside the store and onto the sidewalk.

I asked waiting customers why they went to Chick-fil-A, since our mayor says the company is anti-gay.

“I didn’t think that had anything to do with the sandwich,” said one. Another made me smile by saying, “Too bad. I don’t care about what the mayor says.”

When we have a choice, Americans ignore politicians. That’s usually a good thing. 

John Stossel is the author of “No They Can’t! Why Government Fails — But Individuals Succeed” and host of “Stossel” (Fridays at 9 PM/ET), a weekly program highlighting current consumer issues with a libertarian viewpoint. Stossel also appears regularly on Fox News Channel (FNC) providing signature analysis. Click here for more information on John Stossel.

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