This is my least favorite season. What season is that you ask? Election season. As I’ve accumulated years on this earth I have come to loathe politics. When I was younger I eagerly engaged in debates and discussions about the issues of the day. I thought I was smart and well-read and had something to say. But I could never really shake my old man’s favorite line: “opinions are like assholes, everybody’s got one.” Yeah, I know it was not HIS line, countless others have said it, but it fit my dad’s personality to a T. He had a boatload of opinions that he was happy to holler about and he was an asshole, to boot. I loved my father, but he really was a difficult sort.
Anyway, the longer I spent listening to people’s opinions the less I became interested. I’m happy you think cucumber-ginger ice cream is the greatest flavor on earth but I’ll stick with chocolate chip. I mean, really? Do I give a shit? No! And when I say I don’t give a shit that does not mean I disapprove. If you like that stuff, go for it. Just don’t shove it down my throat. In fact, I am cool with whatever floats your boat. I like happy people and if you want to do tae-bo at the crack of dawn with a gym full of other sweaty folks, more power to you. I’ll be sipping Peet’s and eating oatmeal because that’s how I roll.
Back to politics. Politics, for me, is intellectual death. The point of politics is to get votes. To get votes, you say what you think people want to hear. You keep it simple, and you lie if necessary, and it is almost always necessary to lie. Now I’ve got no beef with that. Really, lying is part of life. I’m a big boy. I accept that ugly fact. Advertising is lying and this country’s economy is built almost entirely upon advertising. Only a fool or a sociopath would look you in the eye and tell you with utmost certainty that his mass-produced take-out pizza is better than the other guy’s mass-produced take-out pizza.
That’s politics. Passing out the verbal equivalent of indistinguishable mass-produced take-out pizza slices. And claiming “mine tastes better, really!” I’m a good citizen. I obey the law, mostly, and stay out trouble. I don’t take what isn’t mine and I don’t mess with other people. I drive defensively and I use my turn signals. I pay my taxes and I vote. I don’t mind voting for “the lesser of two evils” and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t want to hear it anymore. I’m done. There’s nothing new, just the same old recycled jibber-jabber. My mind dies when I watch a political event, be it a speech, a convention, or a debate.
But this is the season. We get to elect a new El Presidente this November and by golly there’s a host o’folks chasing that dream. They are going to talk a lot and say very little. And all of us will line up this way or that, get in our tribes and holler and wave our banners, and try to stay friends through it all. But “messaging” hurts my brain. It’s bad for me. I don’t need and I don’t want “talking points.” I don’t see the world that way. I don’t think in “pro” and “con.” Those are just mental straitjackets. I see a continuum, colors that grade into each other like the spectrum, like a rainbow. I have a hard time with black and white despite my fondness for those kinds of movies.
I’m not a complete fool. I know some of those characters out there hoping to be POTUS are dangerous fuck-ups. I’m sure we could disagree readily on which ones. And one of them might win and fuck things up. I’m picking the one I think has the least chance of really blowing chow. I suppose a lot of the other voters think along the same lines. In the end, we’ll probably get someone not-too-great but not-too-horrible either and we’ll muddle along, much like before. I think we might be victims of our own expectations, that is, we hope for far more from our candidates than they can actually deliver.
I suppose I’m thankful for living in a democracy. Actually, it’s a republic, but we don’t seem to call it that nowadays. We get reminded all the time about the superiority of democracy but we forget that it’s a messy business. But, like taking out the garbage, I’m willing to do it. Taking out the garbage doesn’t kill brain cells, however. And if I want dead brain cells, I’ll whip up another cocktail.
6 thoughts on “Death and Politics”
I disagree as to this being a bad season. I am excited by the explosion of issues that are being talked about. I love the fact that people are expressing themselves on social media. What I do not like is the negativity of some people in calling names, citing false facts, etc.. I even hide posts that show a candidate looking ugly no matter who the candidate is. I think people are angry and expressing themselves is important I just hope that we can learn to have “just the right amount of anger” and not let it completely cloud our reasoning. I also applaud your post as attempting to bring some reason into this political season. I think we are on the verge of substantial change and at this time it can go either way – one side are angry and want to fight the aliens and the other side is angry and wants to fight the establishment. Who will win? We need discussions. Thank you for you post. I loved it.
Well thanks, Steve. You are more of an optimist than me. Ultimately, I think ‘murica will be OK, like I said, we’ll muddle along. But man I could do with a SHORTER election season!
This is a good thought, but complete nonsense. You love politics. I have known you for more than half your (or my) life now (which is in itself pretty scary) and I can say with certainty that you absolutely love politics.
What you do not like is the modern confluence of politics with marketing and the necessity of the news media into making everything a breathless contest. Did you see what Trump said!!!! Wait, here’s a tweet!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!! The political marketing machines treat us like idiots. And I mean that from all big elections. One of my pet peeves is the marketing that I get for local or state ballot measures (and living in SF, there are as many local measures as state ones, if not more). The earliness and volume of mailers are about the best contrarian indicator of how I intend to vote that there is. And I get especially irate at the ones with pictures, but hardly any content. Consider that Iowa is a small state, no real big cities, with a rural skew and is almost entirely white population. Yet the amount of time spent on Iowa is breathtakingly stupid. Iowa, on the republican side, picked Huckabee and Santorum the last two times – pretty good results for going first, huh? Now we are on to another small, white state. What does that say about California? Nada!
Worse, and I have been bitching about this for years, is that television (and now the intertube) is geared towards brevity; the 30 second spot, the 3 minute debate answer, the tweet, and that makes any kind of nuance that is necessary for most political situations virtually unobtainable. Do you know that Lincoln-Douglas debated for 8 hours, and people had to travel for days to attend? Now you get a 2 minute, canned response to a softball question designed to make ratings for the broadcaster. It is insulting to call it a debate.
You do not hate politics, the most probing discussions that I have with you are about politics. But, like yourself, I absolutely cannot stand the televisioning of the political process, the breathless “race” and all consuming headlines as though they are important, or the image-making like it were sliced bread.
You are right. You put it perfectly. I hate what politics has become. What’s worse is you can’t even talk politics any more without getting in a shouting match. Stupid! When W was prez all the lefties said they would move to Canada and when BHO got in all the righties were going to flee. But we are all still here!!! I’m tired of the apocalyptic doom and gloom BS. Hell, let’s just keep muddling along, that ain’t so bad.
I think it says something when you “lie cheat steal” to earn the countries TOP spot. That’s what it’s come to? That’s how you get ahead when nearing to top? What a joke! It was only a few years about that I was saying it would be nice for someone to run a campaign that focused on lifting themselves up and not dragging their opponents down. Then someone, as far as I know, did it. He has been refusing to get personal during debates and wants to keep topics on track. Maybe I’m just young and hopeful. Maybe, that’s just what America needs right now…
But, as said, either way, we will just keep muddling along, even if the worst of the worst manages to get elected. It’s only 4/8 years before someone else jumps in and tries to undo his predecessor’s work.
Yeah, I agree. There is SOME virtue in the government self-destructing every few years and having to start over. At least we won’t get too much of anything for too long. But it is frustrating when good stuff happens and has no staying power! Virtuous people who go into politics have a tough time staying virtuous. There’s just too much money and money’s influence in play, and too much short-term thinking. I guess that’s a lot of it for me, the instant gratification and the focus on the tiny little incremental “victories” over the “opponents” that give you nothing but brief bragging rights. The only thing we can really change is ourselves, and perhaps we can, by example, influence others to look into their own hearts. Maybe then we will see more of what we have in common and less in what divides us.
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