Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Apolitical

Like an atheist who questions the existence of God, I have grown cynical about our political system. I have never been very politically minded, preferring to keep myself in a safe bubble of pop culture over reading a paper or watching the news—endeavors that usually make me all too depressed. But things changed during the 2008 election. For the first time, I became politically aware and informed. I was deeply invested in the outcome. I was passionate. I read papers and watched the news. I was swept up in a feeling that we were on the precipice of something great. That it was possible to raise our voices and be heard. That election meant something to me, as it did to a lot of people on both sides.

In a year’s time this feeling has not only diminished, but what is left is a sense of helplessness and heartbreak. I’ve come to realize that despite grandiose promises, we are incapable of altering the political machine. Our political system is like a mutating virus that has shielded itself against anything that could dismantle or change it. Yes, a year ago expectations were extraordinarily high and there was a colossal mess to be cleaned up. But even with those lofty expectations tempered, I am unable to be optimistic that three years from now anything will be that different from how it is now.

I have grown weary of the game of politics, of the pundits who pass along opinion as fact and of the public who is all too eager to swallow it without question. I am tired of our lackadaisical attitude towards the truth and the childish name-calling and finger-pointing that has become political debate. I am angry that my father can’t get insurance because four years ago he beat cancer. I’m saddened by my friends’ constant fights with their insurance companies. I am troubled for those without heath benefits at all. I ache for those who cannot be married. I worry for my children and my grandchildren, whose futures were mortgaged to fix problems that shouldn’t have happened in the first place. I am aghast that no steps are being taken to save the planet on which we live.

To me the problems we face don’t feel like partisan issues, they are human issues. They are big and they need to be fixed. Yet our elected officials don’t seem to be working with our interests at heart. There is only gridlock and infighting. Those who stand to make a profit now have the loudest voices and the most sway. I don’t believe that politicians are evil, just greedy. Despite what they want us to believe, they don’t live in the same world that we do. They are shielded in a bubble of their own and are not affected by their own actions.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, democracy simply doesn’t work.” - Kent Brockman, The Simpsons

I don’t like feeling this way. By nature I am not a cynical person. But I’ve come to believe that government will not fix things. Yet, we have created a system that will not allow us to operate without it.

The end result of my becoming invested in politics, even for a short time, has been disappointment and pessimism. This has led me to once again become apolitical. I want proof that the system works before I will believe in it again. Until then, I’ll be in my bubble, where at least I know I am safe.

12 comments:

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

huh... Of course it will be different in 3 years... it will most likely or I should say positively be worse.

The system did work, when it was first founded and the constitution was held to a higher regard politics worked... and democracy does work.

It's corrupt and as you said Greedy people.

You shouldn't hide in your shell though. You should take the way you write and use it to get your opinions out there.

The promise of change that so many people were duped by boggles me mind.

But it has been done and now what are the PEOPLE going to do about it? Why leave it solely in the hands of the government? We have rights... we just forget that sometimes.

Look to the constitution. It's our friend. :)

ZenMom said...

This is why I'm a political turtle.

Every now and then, I feel brave enough or inspired enough or stupid enough to stick my head out into the fray and taste the air.

But I usually tuck my head back in my shell again pretty quick - usually feeling disillusioned and depressed by the process.

It's tempting to sit back and blame the political machine for going all Skynet on us.

And, to a certain extent, it has.

Which is maybe the most depressing part of all: The idea that even good people with the best of intentions and plans can't stop the machine.

No, wait, there's one even more depressing truth: Most of "the people" are just as stupid and vapid and greedy as the "the government".

Got any more room in that bubble?

Bah. You've caught me in a maudlin mood. Try me again on another day and I'd probably leave one of those puppies and rainbows comments you so love. Maybe.

Your escalator operator said...

A thought-provoking post.

All of the news and developments you mention are depressing, to be sure, but it always seems more depressing to hear about good people saying, "It sucks and therefore I'm opting out." It often doesn't seem like it, but real people - fellow citizens - do make up the government. Why not get *more* involved and work for changes - even small, local ones? The system is corrupted because corrupt (but highly motivated) people get involved in the system. We need more *good* people with good ideas to be motivated to get involved, too - not fewer.

... said...

Great post. You and the family can come to my island. I'm a gracious dictator and I deny entry to all fuckwits.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Shelle...Yeah, I know that I should not play the ostrich and stick my head in the sand, but at the moment I am at a loss for what to actually do about it.

Zen...There is always room in my bubble for good pop culture lovin' folks like you. Tonight's screening will be the 1982 classic, John Carpenter's The Thing.

YEO...I know, I should. This is why they need to invent another 4 hours in every day.

... ...If you can provide me and my family with food, shelter and moderate health care, I will entertain you with my tales of geekiness. I know that WonderWife™ would totally approve of such an arrangement (even though she has grown weary of all of my tales of geekiness).

James (SeattleDad) said...

I am with you there. Very dissapointed in the whole political system in general.

SciFi Dad said...

Welcome to the club. I was still in university the first time I cast a vote for the person who would cause the least damage and had the best chance of beating the person who would cause the most damage instead of the person I trusted and believed in (Canadian politics have four parties).

It hasn't changed in 13 years since.

Vancetastic said...

I like the "mutating virus" metaphor. Haven't heard that one before.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

James...It's hard to be anything but.

SciFi...At least you guys have health care.

Vance...Thanks. That one's all me. I'd like to think that it's that kind of commentary that keeps the readers of this blog coming back for more.

ZenMom said...

John Carpenter's The Thing as a substitute for politics. There's a metaphor there, somewhere.

Sadie said...

DGB, United Health Group reported a 30% increase in profits today despite high unemployment last year. While they lost 6.5% of their private sector employer provided insurance customers (thanks to layoffs), Medicare enrollment increased by 20%!

For profit insurance is making hundreds of millions of dollars in profit and this one company made 21.78 billion dollars in revenue last year. All of this is sponsored by the United States Government thanks to the private public partnerships that were set up under the banner of Medicare reform during the Bush Administration.

Trying to cut off those profits and set up a public insurance competitor is not easy, but how does that justify giving up? It's easy to push through wars and reforms that will literally steal billions of dollars from you and hand them over to corporations. It's a hell of a lot harder to stop that process once it has started.

How do we stop it by hoping somebody else is going to do it for us? There are lots of reasons to be mad as hell at Obama, at Democrats and Republicans. Then what? What do you do after you get mad?

What are we going to say when our kids look at us one day and ask us what we did to try to leave them a better America than our parents left us? Are we going to tell them we voted for a good guy, who showed a lot of promise, but it wasn't enough? Or are we going to tell them we spoke truth to lies, we stood up for what was right, we didn't give up because it was hard, and we didn't justify inaction because we were pessimistic?

Please, don't give up.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Sadie...My political guru, you are right. I don't want to be the guy that sticks my head in the sand at trouble. But I opened myself up and cared and believed. Right now, all of that feels like some kind of illusion. I will need a little time to dip my toes back into the world of politics.