Wednesday, June 25, 2008


So, I wanted to write a small bit today about politics today. Surprise, surprise.

I have a lot of close friends who are really invested in the concept of "going green." They grow their own food, work for green companies, patch their clothes, ride their bikes everywhere, plant trees, use cloth shopping bags, and basically do every personally empowering thing that they can think of to help reduce green house gas emissions. And I think this is really admirable, I do. The combination of these actions conveys a mindfulness and a sincere dedication to preserving things that matter; it shows a commitment to individual integrity and accountability that is oftentimes not seen in our society. I give props where props are due.

But none of them are interested in politics.

Oh sure, they'll give the occasional fist shake when George Bush, the GREAT EVIL ONE, is brought up in conversation. The Bush Administration has become this sort of Star-Warsian Evil Empire, dividing the world into cozy black and white geometrics that are so familiar, so comforting- especially when you are one of the good guys. But they don't keep up to date on local issues, know none of the local politicians, don't participate in rallies or citizen lobbying, don't write letters, don't follow specific bills or resolutions, and don't really read the newspapers.

I think there's a fundamental disconnect there. I mean, these incredibly caring motivated people are working their asses off to save the planet, one recyclable can at a time, and yet the area in which they would have the most power to affect REAL change, they shie away from.

It may be that they don't understand how powerful the political scene is. They see the Evil Empire and assume that all is lost on the political front and it's some sort of Orwellian everyman scenario where rag tags and rebels unite in grassroots struggle against the man, unified in one unspoken common desire for human betterment and global salvation. This may explain the overwhelming excitement about Obama (even though they have no idea what his positions are on any of the issues, much less the issues themselves). In posing as the opposition to the Evil Empire, Obama is a sort of political savior come during the apocalypse to save us.

Or maybe they are entrenched in post-hippy historical apathy toward anything political. They've heard myths the size of Paul Bunyan which posit that, no matter what you do, Big Oil or Big Pharma or Big Energy or Big Government will overpower any opposition movement with their money and lawyers and finesse. It's discouraging to listen to these myths (or actual stories), and one starts to feel completely disempowered and angry. The anger leads to apathy, the belief that we'd be better off without government all together and why can't we all just get along?

It may also be the fact that, up close and center, politics is a pretty boring business. Billions of pages of paperwork and minutiae, obtuse windbaggy senators obfuscating the benefits of this tort reform and that tax law until all the righteous energy is depleted by sheer boredom. Up close and personal, it's not a glamorous business.

It makes me sad though. Not sad in the, "kids these days just don't care" sort of way. These people care! They're just so busy searching for change that they don't see the $100 bill sitting in front of them. With all the brains and the motivation and the dedication directed in the right direction, we could really make a change. We could really get things done around here, do some clean up. It would take long-term commitment, and some boring afternoons, but we could really make things better. I keep thinking about this FISA bill that I've referenced in the prior post. If my friends were political, and they yelled and shook their fists at their elected officials (and their friends did that in their states, and their friends, and so on), all these Democratic lilly livers who are prepared to roll over and allow civil rights violations would be forced to listen. They'd be forced to stand up for the people they represent, the loud angry conscience in their ear, and do what's right...or else.

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