Politics & Paradox


This pretty much sums it up. The consummation of months (years?) of campaigning, debates, hackery and speeches. After all of this MacIntyre-article-stuff for the last few weeks (most of which, I admit, was due to curiosity, but is turning more into conviction), I've come to the realization that Americans—for the most part—are horribly disinterested in politics. Political activity, for the common citizen of our country, would most likely be identified as campaigning, knocking on doors, sporting the latest "Country First" apparel, or spending entire days and tanks of gas trying to find opposition yard-signs to put one of yours right next to (effectively, I suppose, canceling one another out). It's enough to make one a little nauseous, and to make most people just simply not care anymore.

And I would ask, 'Is this really what we want for our country?' To the political leaders, slandering and backbiting one another, 'Is apathy the virtue upon which are built the great civilizations?' I'm no politician, but it seems that even power mongers should realize that pure contradiction is not the recipe for progress or growth.

Now, before this all sounds too romantic, I do realize that politics has never been a very beautiful thing. The idea of political freedom, sure; the right of a pursuit of happiness, sure. But politics, no. So I don't realistically expect that what we are going through would be any different. But we have to admit that not only is this election season in the US particularly degenerate, but that the past few election years have noted a trend of continual decadence in the American political landscape. More corruption, more slander, more drivel and more 'ick.'

What are the things that Americans, in these relatively dark times of economic and political uncertainty, can fall back on? How can we force ourselves to take the time enough to care about the election process and all the garbage that goes along with it? After all, it is important. We just can't see it, sometimes.

Maybe, in the midst of our wallowing at home, trying to save money and avoid streetcorner riots in the name of one presidential candidate or the other, we could all pop in a copy of Robert Bolt's, "A Man For All Seasons." The portrayal of St. Thomas More in the film is one of the best portrayals of a realistic-seeming saint that I can recall. His political involvement with King Henry VIII, the love he shows for his family, and his ultimate death at the hands of a nation that grew to hate him most viciously for his defense of Truth...it all seems rather fitting. And if only we could all live up to his famous maxim: "I die His Majesty's good servant, but God's first." Sir Thomas more is the model of a faithful citizen. He's also a saint. If that says anything, then maybe we are lucky after all to be living in such a time of political paradox.

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    # by Kathleen - October 27, 2008 at 8:12 AM

    Andrew,

    As one who sits on the sideline and watches each candidate take a punch at the other, I often sit and think to myself "what are we teaching others, in particular the young?” If we have grown adults acting like, for lack of better term, children, then how do we expect children who watch this to take voting seriously or even to learn how to interact with others who have different positions than they do? It would be interesting to take a poll of the younger generations (those obviously who understand what is going on) and get their feedback on what they see and hear going on. In the end, they are the future of America.

    On another note, I find it annoying and frustrating when voting season comes around with all the propaganda you see out, when in the end will the candidates really stand by what they say. We know that it "sounds" good when they talk, but in reality is what they are saying realistic? I received an e-mail this morning that made me think for a moment on what the point it was trying to get across, long story short in the end people will vote for certain candidates and their "standings/positions" not realizing what the outcome would be, but if put into effect, that is the candidates “laws/bills”, they would not agree with what the candidate's position after all.

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    # by Andrew Haines - October 28, 2008 at 10:22 AM

    That is an interesting point. Most people probably don't connect a proposed reality with the reality as it will actually be in...well...reality. I think it's much less common to see well-studied people—say college economics professors, etc.—who are thoroughly taken by a candidate's fix-it-all approach to the financial situation we're in now. They simply know better than to believe it's that easy.

    What is truly shocking, though, is the herd mentality that grips the rest of the population—the ones who aren't overly-studied in any particular field of political interest. You are right: there really is no distinction between proposals and actual reality for most people. They vote, and are heartily disappointed a year later. Just look at Bush's approval rating for evidence. He won by a rather considerable margin (in a tight race), and now everyone hates him.