Navigating the muddy waters of the great Mississippi River back in Mark Twain's time was risky business because of whirlpools, eddys, and hidden debris. Ship captains and pilots were skilled at identifying them for the sake of their passengers and cargo and when they failed to recognize the danger, many times disaster resulted. News of this went unreported, because the average person had no way to read about it.
In this great boat we Americans share, we are still very much dependent and at the mercy of those elected "captains" to keep us from sinking, or being offered in sacrifice for the good of the people. They are every bit as skilled at manipulating the muddy waters of politics as those salty old sailors were on the Mississippi river. They are even better at hiding the actual facts when they run us ashore or into an eddy. It isn't accurately reported because the issue is so cloudy, no one knows who to blame, or what actually took place.
We don't know what or who to believe anymore.
On top of all that, they collude with their own crowd to keep their boat afloat, often realizing the only way to keep at the helm is to appear innocent, or vilify another captain. A heavy cloud of offensive attack silt is their defense. Imagine a ship captain who spends almost all of their time on the bridge, trying to keep in the middle of the river. They have no intention of ever arriving. Their main goal is to stay on as captain. Around them are their team of pilots who make every decision appear to be exactly the right choice.
The cargo and passengers are fed a steady diet of "we are almost there" and the journey becomes the goal, not the arrival. The dangers in the river become any other ship captain who doesn't carry the same cargo. Aside from navigating the muddy water, the ship captain now spends every available minute hiding their mistakes, indiscretions, expenditures, and focuses on pontificating on projected accomplishments. Their real skill is in what comes out of their mouth and how well they navigate the muddy waters, not in actually arriving at a suitable destination.
The skilled navigators claim allegiance to one faction or another, but in reality, they all belong to the same company. This company's goal is to grow fabulously rich and for the cargo and passengers to stay in a suspended state of supportive limbo.
When they feel like they are in a safe place, they collude with other safe captains to make it impossible for unsafe captains to navigate effectively. The traffic on the river is enormous, with many boats and each of them represent a certain portion of the entire populace, but it matters not to veteran captains. What matters to them is they stay safely in the middle of the river and watch with giddiness when the less skilled crash on the shoreline or are sucked up in a whirlpool. They leap on their failure like the white whale crashed into the Pequod, spouting righteousness and indignation as a representative of the investors.
From the time they arrive as the decorated captain, the original intent of being a steward of the cargo and passengers is set aside and they begin the self-serving task of keeping the boat safely afloat. Never mind that their investors intend for them to represent. It matters not, because the river system is so well established that it is impossible for them to do anything except join the other captains in the illusion of progressive travel.
Along the way, they milk the investors until they have acquired vast personal wealth. If by chance the investors launch a rogue admiral on the river, every captain is alarmed and threatened and their only recourse is to attempt to undermine them. Collusion takes on a magnified meaning, as both sides join hands, whispering and plotting. Under the auspices of reaching the suitable destination, the pirate captains churn the waters to make them even muddier and then blame the new admiral for the cloudy cesspool they've historically called home.
When the admiral refuses to paddle along and suggests filtering the river until it's clean, the captains respond by revving up their paddle wheels and creating even cloudier water. The reason for this behavior is they are not representing the investors and keeping at the helm is their only goal. They feel threatened and exposed. Only by steering the boat can they gain the prosperity and power they desire. Investors are considered as nothing more than stupid and a means toward an end. The admiral must be discredited.
The river system is what it is. It may be too large and too muddy to ever filter. The captains control the investors and the cargo and yet, we keep pumping our money into the system wanting to believe something will change. Unfortunately for us, probably not in our lifetime.