Saturday, November 10, 2012
Just a bit about personal politics
I'm still seeing political discussions on Facebook. Some are fairly civil, which is always nice to see. Of course, even some of the civil ones can be very presumptuous, and you know how that sets me off.
One opinion you'll here from good people on all sides is that being a democrat shouldn't preclude you from being friends with a republican, and vice versa. Most people I respect share this idea. They will simply say that whatever you may believe, politics are personal, and they shouldn't get in the way of your friendships.
Regarding that point, though, I actually heard somebody make a compelling argument for why your personal politics do matter. According to this person, politics are important because they're a matter not just of pride, but of the fate of our country. Apparently, hardcore liberals and conservatives have such drastically different plans for our country, our very way of life is at stake, because liberals plan to give the federal government so much power that it will inevitably take away all of our civil liberties.
Since the person who made the above point clearly has all the answers, obviously, this must mean that conservatives are people with good moral values who want to protect liberty, and liberals are morally bankrupt fools who want to create an Orwellian police state so they can have free healthcare and abortions, and sit at home numbing themselves with legalized marijuana while the iron fist of Big Brother Obama crushes everything about America that we hold dear.
I like it. This view of things is nice and simple. It eliminates all the messy complications and doubt that arise from approaching politics on a personal level rather than on the level of an entire movement.
There's certainly no way that any conservative politicians are selling their political influence to private interests for their own personal gain, slowly compromising the integrity of the government as it becomes more and more controlled by money rather than morals. And there are certainly no heartless, bloodthirsty warmongers in the party who treat citizens of the very country they claim to love with the kind of boundless contempt and fury usually reserved for someone who fucked your girlfriend and your mother in a three-way over the corpse of your dog and then sent a DVD of the event to all of your closest friends.
Of course, there is similarly no possibility that some liberals believe there should be a strong federal government in place for the purpose of actually protecting people's liberties and well-being from individuals and corporations who would seek to exploit the law to control the poor and the weak. It's entirely impossible that a person branded with the name "liberal" could in fact love their country and its people and wish to work together with the rest of government to better serve them.
Nope, they all just wanna control us, and the conservatives are fighting them to preserve the American dream.
Naturally, there are also people at the other end of the spectrum, who believe all conservatives are brainless, bible-thumping toothless morons who will vote for any corrupt, filthy rich, human-trafficking, Gevenva-Convention-violating, black-hearted Sith lord so long as he loves guns and says the word "freedom" enough. On the other hand, they figure all liberals must be highly-evolved, intellectually superior, free-spirited, omnipotent, angelic reincarnations of Mahatma Ghandi and Mother Teresa (if they were atheists). This point of view has exactly as much evidence to support it as the opposite view does, and makes about as much logical sense.
As straightforward and attractive as this kind of political-label-based thinking can be, I'm mainly of the opinion that anybody who rides too hard on the "conservative" or "liberal" agenda is probably too willfully ignorant and full of indignant holier-than-thou attitude to be worth interacting with on more than a casual basis.
If anyone's going to get a bug up their ass and act like they're smarter than everyone else in the room, it should be a cynic like me. Everyone who "shoots from the hip" and "tells it like it is" is firing blind; at least I have the decency to admit that I speak from a place of well-intentioned ignorance. Plus, I sure can talk pretty when I want to, can't I?
I do know this though: amid all this bickering between the democrats and republicans, liberals and conservatives, the voices of reason and compassion get lost in the noise of war drums. Americans are essentially going to war with each other, even if it's only a war of words. Evidently, they don't realize that this process actually benefits none of us in the American public. All the squabbling and mudslinging does nothing to secure our energy independence, protect us from terrorist threats, stabilize the economy, protect our civil liberties, encourage technological progress, prevent or reverse global climate change (you know, if you believe the word of countless scientists and climate experts all over the world), or really do anything else to improve our lives. It's a giant distraction; nothing more. As long as we have somebody to place the blame on, we won't worry too much about the rest.
On the other hand, do you know who benefits quite a bit from all this political banter? Politicians. The two big parties still control our entire government, both on the federal and state levels. Independent or third-party candidates are rare, and have essentially no power to affect change. Congress has had a staggeringly low approval rating in recent years, yet many incumbent candidates got reelected all over the country. Why on earth would we keep voting for the same people we claim to think are doing a lousy job? Only morons like Todd Akin who found a way to stand out from the crowd and make themselves targets were voted out. Everyone who kept quiet and stuck to their party's platform saved their jobs.
I hear plenty of people talking about how awful the choices are in the elections, yet nobody makes an effort to find someone better. A lot of people genuinely didn't like either of the big two presidential candidates this year, but they still cast their vote for one of them, thinking it would be the lesser of two evils, and that somehow voting for any third-party candidate would be a waste of their vote.
I'm sorry, but how fucking stupid can the American people really be? The parties told us that Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were our choices. We didn't pick them; the veteran members of those parties chose them. Even the political primaries are a joke; Republicans were given a handful of unlikable political riff-raff to pick from, and they picked the least of those evils to advance to the main election. How do more people not stand up in the middle of this mess and go "Is this the best we could come up with?"
At this point, I just think there's no point in fighting over how best to protect the foundations of American democracy. They're already gone. Our votes are bought and paid for. Millions upon millions of dollars were collected out of the pockets of political power-players and a sea of hapless gullible idiots, and they were spent on ad campaigns to convince us that our vote matters, yet simultaneously tell us who we are supposed to vote for. I'm not just talking about actual advertising segments, either. Network anchors and editorial commentators on cable news feed us the exact same information. I'm not sure if they're actually being paid off, or if they're just as gullible as the people they broadcast to.
It's pathetic and despicable, but even I'm complicit in all this. After all, I didn't really research candidates who might actually work to take the influence of private money and blind partisan loyalty out of political decision-making. I was too busy with whatever else I do with my life to set time aside for the future of my country, or my state for that matter. When I went in to vote on Tuesday, half my ballot was blank because I didn't want to vote for local politicians I knew nothing about, but not voting is almost as bad as voting uninformed.
In regards to the actual presidential election, I cast a vote for the Libertarian candidate. While I do agree with the vast majority of his platform, the vote was less out of loyalty for him and more out of contempt for mainstream politics. Hell, a couple of weeks ago, I still couldn't remember the man's name, and after this week, it's unlikely anybody else will either.
Well, this has gotten awfully long-winded. If I had a point to make with all this, it's simply the following: people who take politics so seriously as to cut off ties with friends they disagree with are irredeemable fucking morons. Politics, American or otherwise, are a stupid sick joke, and like most things we do as a human race, they should not be taken too seriously. It only makes us look foolish in the long run.
Anyway, if I offended anybody with this rant of mine, I do apologize. Not for anything I said, but for your inability to get your head out of your ass, metaphorically speaking. Life's too short to go on bickering over crap like this. In truth, I've given it more thought than it deserves at this point, and I wish I hadn't. So, maybe I do apologize for that much.
Verbosity is another thing I can't stand; you probably wouldn't guess that by reading this.
Instead of arguing over ideologies with people who have even less insight than I do, I think I'm better off just living the best life I can. I'm not quite sure how to do that, mind you; this life is still a work in progress, so there's time to figure it out. I'd just appreciate it if we could all learn to treat each other with the kind of respect we wish to be treated with. Nobody has all the right answers; most people don't even have a few of them.
I just want us all to remember that societies only work through cooperation, and drawing battle lines in the sand with labels like conservative and liberal only hurt our ability to thrive.
Now, I know we can't all just get along. Drama is inherent in our nature as human beings. I'm too hopeful to be a realist, but I hate entirely too many people to be a pacifist. I just hope we can figure out a way to live side by side without being at each other's throats day and night. We'll never get world peace, but I'd settle for that much.
Those are my thoughts for now. I'll sign off before this turns into a damn book instead of a post. I'll follow up later if my muse should strike me over the head again. Until then, peace and love, readers. And just for laughs: