It’s Not What you Know – It’s Who You Know (Or Who You Like)

I did a quick Google search to see if this saying was something that had a defined author and origin. All I found was explanations as to how this statement fits in our lives and society.

This has to be one of the world’s most cynical statements. I don’t remember when I first heard it, but I do remember when I first experienced it.

I was in high school and driving my first car. It was not much of a car, but it did get me around. I learned that Alan Alda also had the same make of car, a Skoda Octavia. Today this Czechoslovakian built car is actually pretty nice. But during the cold war, this eastern European car was a hodgepodge of US auto parts made into a car. I paid $150 for it and was proud to have something that ran.

I was sitting at an intersection waiting for a green light when I was hit from behind. I had not seen it coming. I looked in the rear view mirror and got an “Oops” look from the female driver, hands in the air. I motioned to a parking lot ahead to the right, and when the light turned, I pulled into the lot and watched the lady drive off. I gave chase just enough to get her tag number.

When I got home, I called the police station and reported the incident. They took my information and said they’d get back with me. When I did not hear back, I called them. The person I was passed to on the phone proceeded to tell me it was someone I did not want to pursue and that I should let it go. I was furious and never found out who it was. But I learned something important. It’s not what you know, but who you know. Or who you are.

Lady Justice stands tall. She is blindfolded so that she cannot see who is before her. In one hand she holds a set of scales to weigh the evidence and in the other hand a sword to deliver swift punishment if the evidence shows guilt.  God tells us His justice is true. He is not a respecter of persons. In other words, to Him, it does not matter who you are or who you know.

This is the way true justice works. True justice gives men hope and security. Now we all know we don’t measure up and in that case, with God, we seek mercy. However, as a nation, we must have a consistent set of laws and justice. “We are a nation of laws, not of men,” -John Adams

We see on occasion someone in government who’s charged with a crime, but is always seems to be a little guy who’s thrown under the bus – the scapegoat. The ones who gave the order, the masterminds, never pay.  Well, almost never.

I recall the Watergate scandal, and it seemed they were actually going to go after Nixon. I remember many people saying then that “everyone does it, but he just got caught.” Nixon rightly paid a heavy price. But whose fault is it when so many seem to wear Teflon clothing, nothing ever sticks to them?

I’d suggest it is collectively OUR fault.

What brought Nixon down was that his own “side” did not support him. Had they rallied around him, he likely would have weathered the storm. In most cases, however, do we not make excuses for them if they are “our guy?”  Be honest with yourself.


I posted the following quote on my Facebook page this morning:

“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and nothing was true. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” -Hannah Arendt

Hannah was a Holocaust survivor, and we might correctly assume she was talking about Hitler and the Third Reich. But was she? Might she have been talking about a human condition that in reality was not all that rare in history?

Let’s look at the two most recent examples in our own history, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. We might as well look at Hillary Clinton, as well, because it still fits the pattern along with George W Bush as it does all tie in together. Plus it is easier to have people examine something they have experienced rather than just reading history.

obama from Flickr via Wylio

© 2008 derstrickerFlickr | CC-BY

Coming off of eight years of the “W” presidency there was a deep division. You might not think it was so bad, but I believe it was. We just did not have social media playing such a huge role in information dissemination.

I had friends on the “left” who railed at W’s abuse of power, running up debt, and being so partisan. I also had friends on the right who ignored all those things because W was “their guy” and doing the things they liked. For the record, I spoke loudly against those abuses and stopped supporting the Republican party in 2005. I have not resumed.

Suddenly, in 2009, and for the next eight years, everything reversed. Those who slammed W’s policies and actions suddenly fawned over the same thing coming from “their guy” and those who made excuses and allowances for W were suddenly incensed over Obama.

Hillary Clinton. Never in our history has there been such a scandal-ridden candidate. Certainly, it is possible and likely that she was not guilty of everything with which she was accused, but there is enough there that if only half of it were true, it made her deeply flawed and unqualified. And in the end, that is what defeated her. It wasn’t that Trump did so well-  she was just so bad that people just could not pull the lever for her.

So what does all that have to do with anything? We make excuses for people’s bad behavior if we like them in general. Go back and read Hannah’s quote again. While it is true that our leaders on both sides use propaganda, whose job is it to search for the truth? Ever hear of the phrase “Buyer beware?” Advertising is nothing but propaganda trying to get us to believe something we otherwise might not.

“If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. The average family will save $2,500 a year.” Some still believe that, and some never did. The point is, we are lied to and misled, yet some see the lie and some do not.

You cannot find what you are not looking for.

When I was told after that accident that I did not want to pursue the person, it was because the police and that person had a mutually beneficial relationship. The NSA spying, Patriot Act, Medicare Expansion, and the bailout came under Bush, yet I still hear “conservatives” making excuses. What I KNOW is that government has certain Enumerated Powers and that it does not matter WHO exceeds them. I frequently hear people talk about government excess, but if you discuss cutting a program from which they benefit, suddenly it’s all okay.

I’m sorry, I have NO RIGHT to rail against the apparent quid pro quo of Obama with Holder or Lynch or Lerner – or Clinton’s scandals – if I do not hold Bush, and now Trump to the same standard.  What credibility would I have? The administration is in charge of Lady Justice, just as that local police department or district attorney. When they put their thumb on the scale, or wield the sword in her place, or take off her blindfold, they become tyrants. And If I do the same, I am no different from them.

President George W. Bush visits Pentagon from Flickr via Wylio

© 2008 The U.S. ArmyFlickr | CC-BY

However, I can tell you from experience, I will be attacked by my own “side” if I dare speak out against Bush or Trump. The same people who cry about a media that takes sides and does not report the truth will tear into me if I call attention to a problem and tell the truth that does not serve their personal agenda. Guess what?


Truth is truth, and the “chips fall where they may.” Our Republic is in peril. The election of Donald Trump will do nothing to save the Republic or Make America Great Again. That is OUR job. We must become the people our founders envisioned to carry the torch of freedom. They were flawed as are we, but they strove for something greater- they strove to lift up, rather than tear down. They strove to encourage rather than discourage.

As long as we squabble amongst ourselves, deny our shortcomings, and until we endeavor to improve – we will be the reason the Republic fails. We will have no one else to blame because the Republic was put in OUR hands.

Photo Credit: “Bobsleeën, vijfmansbob / Bobsleigh”, © 2010 Nationaal ArchiefFlickr | PD


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