First off, I want you to know that this is a semi-political essay you’re about to digest. But WAIT!! Don’t just click away and return to The Onion or some other site that is focused on Britney’s latest social transgression….give me a chance. And secondly, I want to disabuse you IMMEDIATELY of the notion that this is going to be one of those “can’t we all just get along” type of tirades. P.S. ~ there may be nudity involved, so read on, I say.
I’m not sure if it is a function of growing older, having kids to dull the edges, or just living in the buckle of the bible belt that has begun to paint things with a few more shades of gray. During the early teen years, it was relatively easy to have a communist’s point of view. By not having a mortgage, by having minimal financial responsibilities, it seemed as though the entitlement mentality was a logical viewpoint. By God, those rich folks certainly haven’t earned their wealth, and there are so many social injustices out there that it makes sense to soak the greedy; you know, give them “some moral perspective”. Then came college (funded by minimum wage jobs and heavy student loans) and the the near-homeless lifestyle it afforded. That was when seeds of conservative thought were nurtured; from there they blossomed into a virtual loathing of the Big Bad Government and the supposed tyranny of Bay Area liberals trying to hijack what little money I could earn to fund social engineering projects. A fan of talk radio was born.
Fast forward to the nose-hair-growing years and it would seem that the fiery passion I felt towards The State was, at best, misdirected by a lack of time on this earth. Now I watch and listen to politicians of every stripe arguing their viewpoints utilizing the lowest common denominator as a rallying point. Republican? Then you better be ready to whip into a lather at such fun topics as individual reproductive choice and those rascally homosexuals trying to get all legally married (the nerve!) Democrat? I should hope that you can toss the term “bigot” at anyone who questions your choice of candidate, ideological differences notwithstanding. These candidates will not, can not, appeal the masses based on such platforms as “the impact of sub-prime lending practices on the greater population of White Plains, NY.” That doesn’t even mildly intrigue more than, like, 16 people. No, they need to label their opponent “baby-killer”, “Godless heathen”, “fat, rich, white guy who hates your sister” or some such thing. And next thing you know, you’re out there on a courthouse lawn, waving a sign and yelling that your candidates opponent is a book-burning Nazi.
I’m all for endorsing a particular point of view, but I don’t know when it became such a zero-sum game. If your guy is for finding a cure for cancer, it shouldn’t translate into his or her opponent being a fan of the disease. But somehow, there seems to be no middle ground. Every day on the news, there is a group protesting zoning ordinance changes, GM bankruptcy hearings or Daylight Savings Time. And these people look seriously pissed. At least in other countries they seem to protest naked from time to time; I give them mad props for humorous creativity. We get Sean Penn wagging his finger at us, as though his “perspective” as an actor lends credence when it comes to international affairs. Yay, us!
The 900 pound gorilla in the room seems to be that most, if not all, candidates for higher office are lustful of power. How original would it be for someone to come out and say “You know, I really could care less about the increase in roving packs of pit bulls maiming children who don’t look both ways before crossing. I just want to be voted dog catcher because I would get to drive a nifty Ford Ranger home each night.” Political suicide? No doubt, but at least it would be refreshingly honest. Instead I get bombarded with sound bites informing me that Candidate X OBVIOUSLY is an instrument of Satan because he won’t outlaw same sex penguin marriage. Is it any wonder that voter turnout is so low? That Donald Duck commands ANY percentage of the vote? It’s not disinterest, you political hackjobs….it’s YOU.
Just once, I’d like to hear “Hey look, I’m running for comptroller of the tri-county area and I believe I could represent this area well. My opponent is no slouch either; in fact, she seems like a nice person and competent as well. Any way it turns out, we all ought to go down to the courthouse lawn to protest the latest increase in library late fees; we ought to do this in the nude, because I think that would be a really good time.”
Got my vote.