Thursday, September 13, 2012

Political Retrograde (Or: Let's have a Bitch Session)

Can I be part of the Butterfly Party?
The political season has been in full swing for a while now, and if you're not already over it, you're on your way to being over it. Way over it. One side hates the other for no other reason than it's the other side. This candidate is scum, because the other candidate must be a god to his party. Let's overgeneralize. Let's get mad. Let's gripe. Let's point fingers.

The problem with political seasons of the past several election cycles is that critical thinking has been removed. We've become a country whose two major parties have created a not-so-invisible line in the sand, demarcating right and wrong, good and evil. Hell, I mean that literally. There's a segment of one side that has been trying to say the other side's candidate is the Christian Antichrist. Doesn't get more divisive than saying the President is Satan's butt buddy.

It's easy in an environment like this, a political climate like we've seen the past 10-20 years or so, to loudly and publicly check out. To tell your friends, family, dog walker, dry cleaner, and Timmy - the kid down the street who likes to suck his own toes - how you just aren't going to vote for anyone, because the whole mess just has you upset. Or, one of my favorites, is to merely loudly proclaim how awful we, as a people, have let this nigh-two-party system get and then offer that Somebody should do something about it. (Remember that superhero we talked about, Somebody, who swoops in and does something about whatever cause currently upsetting your proverbial apple cart?)
As is fairly obvious, there is no superhero named Somebody. The only somebody that can do something about your pet cause, that you can truly know beyond the shadow of a doubt will do something about it, is you. Politicians are in the business of playing politics, and are only doing as much as people allow them to do. Like many of you, I was raised by parents who told me that if you are going to complain about something, you must offer a solution - or, at least, offer to be part of the solution. Those are easy parameters to follow when you're 12.

Mom! We don't have a soccer team here, and I want to play soccer.  
Well, dear, then why not stop complaining and get your friends together and form your own team. You could ask the football coach to use their field. 

Children's problems have a lot more possibilities for solutions than adult problems. If the school dance is totally lame or there's too much dog poop in the park or even if the school cafeteria has awful lunch options, there's something that you can do. What about when the problem is big, when it affects millions of people, when you're just the smallest drop of water in the sea of the bigger picture? (To mix a dozen metaphors or so.)

Sentiments like this are being shared all over social networks right now. People are tired of the games, and they're venting. They're mad. They are frustrated, and rightly so. And, when I see someone complain at length about how awful the political system is, about how divisive the political climate is, about how Somebody should present a better option - possibly a third party candidate - my instinctual response is What are you doing to make this happen? Are you giving of your time, energy, and/or money to your preferred causes? Are you sitting in a phone bank for your local Libertarian candidate, or have you donated a fund to buy ad space for a non-biased political commercial? Have you used your days off work to........

See how quickly this train becomes accusatory? Nobody can do this. Nobody can ever keep up with the amount of things you can think of that they should or could be doing. In the vein of mea culpas, I will offer myself up to the chopping block and admit that I'm definitely not doing all that I know could be done. (Though, my candidate of choice is already a nominee, so...there's that.) I have helped out with my local elections in the past, but that's been years ago. In college I helped organize get out the vote efforts and helped other students register to vote. Lately, though, with as busy as life gets, I haven't. I'd like to say that I haven't had time, but there are 24 hours in a day, and I cannot honestly say that I put good use to all of them.

Except for that one spent eating popcorn. That's a good hour.

There's a difference between venting your frustrations in a semi-private/wholly public forum like a social network or blog and being apathetic. Apathy - a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern - would be exemplified by a complete uncaring for an issue. Inaction is not necessarily apathy, which is something I need to wrap my brain around. Personally, I want to go back, mentally, to when my parents would say you can't complain unless you provide an alternative. It's something that was drilled into my head for public speaking competitions. I can't give a convincing persuasive argument, tearing down my opponent, unless I can provide a better solution. Because, if all I'm doing is saying why something won't work, I'm just whining.

My point is this: Let's give each other a break for the next 90 days or so. We're all upset. We're all tired of both parties swinging insults and claims and unfounded accusations at one another. We're tired of being treated like pawns in the game politic. If you have friends that need to vent about how awful the political field is, and how frustrated they are with the whole thing, let them vent. Join in. It's cathartic. A good bitch session might just be what we all need. But, let's remember that when the bitching is over, we should do what we can, where we can, when we can, and how we can.

That's all anybody can ever ask of anybody else. It's all I would ever hope for you. Do what you can, where you can, when you can, and how you can. If someone else doesn't like that, it's their personal issue. Not yours.

Love and Lyte,

Fire Lyte

PS. This was brought on by a conversation I had with Scarlet of a Lakefront Pagan Voice podcast. While she and I frustrate one another to no end, I'd like to say thank you for giving me this Aha! moment. Also, sorry for being a dick. Let's call it Political Retrograde.

4 comments:

  1. Funny you should mention the whole "somebody should do something" routine. Yesterday I signed up to spend Saturday canvassing for the Obama campaign in Iowa . It's going to be a long ass day (and a long ass drive!), but it's definitely worth it! I had a lot of fun in 2008 when I did volunteer work for Obama...only that time they sent us to Wisconsin, which wasn't so long of a commute!

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  2. LOL! It can be so hard to have "conversations" online! It's so hard to detect tone (sarcasm, intent etc) online, but then some people express themselves better in writing. It can be a double-edged sword, this internet contraption. How can we tell if someone is just venting or trying to start a discussion? (BTW - that was meant as a rhetorical question, in case you were wondering, lol!)
    I agree, there is a time to vent and a time to sow... er... that's not the saying, is it? But yes, people should do whatever they personally are able to contribute at whatever level (spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, physically etc) they are at and I agree, we need to give each other a break when we're frustrated sometimes as well. So... a toast to more "Aha moments" for the both of us!
    -Scarlet

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  3. Everyday I spend at least ten minutes deleting political propaganda from my Facebook feed. I just don't want to read any of it anymore. No amount of snarky bitchiness is going to convince anyone of anything.Most voters made up their minds who their favorite candidate was months ago. All posting " I-caught-your-politician-with-his-hand-in-the-cookie- jar" stuff does is show others how big your mean-streak is. Enough already. Either go do something to help make the world a better place, or at least work to change what you don't like, but for gods sake,don't sit in front of your computer screen thinking up sassy come-backs to post on Facebook to show the world how politically savvy you are.

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  4. The day candidates spend more time talking about HOW (not what) they will do when elected, not solely attack the other candidate, is the day when I will feel better about being an American.

    Unfortunately, what no one really says is how it's really a team effort. But we don't have a team--we have two groups who rather prove another side wrong than work towards a solution.

    ...And that has been my small cathartic release...

    ~Allec

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