Political activism vs. apathy

posted by Jeff | Sunday, October 20, 2013, 11:20 PM | comments: 0

One of my catch phrases (can I have catch phrases?) is that we get the government we deserve. I believe that democracy works, if only because the asshats we keep sending to Washington seem to reflect the way people operate. A recent study showed that just over half of Americans are politically somewhat centric, with subtle leanings, and only a small percentage sit on the fringe to the left or right. It still seems like a majority of people aren't politically content unless they pick a side, and go all in to hate the other side. I mean, why worry about policy when you can just detest the opposition, as if it were a pro sport?

The recent nonsense over the budget and debt ceiling were incredibly destructive when it comes to public faith in the system. I think the hardest thing for people to swallow was that it was the fringe element, a minority in numbers, who really caused the problem. If a majority of citizens actually do fall somewhere in the middle, that doesn't seem logical. But the bigger problem is that there is so little discussion of actual policy anymore. It has become a game of, "I'm for whatever the other guy is against." That's insane.

So if we really get the government we deserve, then the solution is to be more engaged. You have to get active in the system. By active, I don't mean liking and sharing some silly graphic on Facebook. I mean you try to understand the issues, let the asshats know what you think, and share it with others in a way that expresses a well thought out argument. It also helps to be open to the possibility that your perspective will change over time as you acquire more information.

I'll admit, my desire to get involved keeps getting smaller and smaller with time. The more ridiculous it gets, the less I want to even think about it. There is too much awesome going on around me, and life is too short, to get sucked into the nonsense. But then, I worry about what my kid will be left with, and I get drawn in a little. Some issues are more important than others. I still wonder if the limited amount of bandwidth I have is worth it. I can show up at GKTW and volunteer, and see that I'm helping to make the world better, instantly. I can stand in front of the US Capitol with a sign and no one will give a shit. It's hard not to be completely apathetic.

I can rationalize this to a degree. Some people are better suited for this kind of thing than others. We can't all be surgeons, and so we can't all be politicians either. There is still a bit of low-hanging fruit to tackle. Voting isn't hard (despite the efforts in many states to make it so). Local issues are super easy to get involved in. Heck, one of my friends is even on a school board.

I don't think I can feel good about bitching and moaning if I don't participate. It's like buying a McNugget and being pissed it doesn't taste like a deliciously marinated chicken breast at home. You do what you can.


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