Today is Election Day! Hate is really a strong word but I can honestly say that I hate politics. Can you think of a more ineffective and in efficient way to go about solving our most important issues than the political process?
As people fervently argue over conflicting points of view all convinced of the “rightness” of their entrenched positions I find myself distancing from the madness of it all. Detachment brings perspective; a seemingly lost endeavor as heels are dug in so deeply the capacity to open to the remotest possibility of a better way is lost…especially if that better way is proposed by the other side.
Stepping out of the fray brings a certain clarity to the collective insanity and leaves me with many questions. Perhaps the most significant being the question of motivation. Does anyone stop to question the underlying motivations giving rise to their positions, the candidates they support or the policies they seek become the law of the land? Do we have or even seek to understand the full impact of these policies, the positions we support or how those decisions will affect our neighbors (and by neighbors I mean everyone)? Why do so many condemn the system, yet conspire with it?
The how of the political process is deception, deceit, spin, half-truths, distortions of reality and bold face lies. The why of the political process is to win, seemingly through any means allowable for the politician. For the voter the why appears more rooted in affirming ideology.
We assume the motives of those seeking office are noble however I firmly believe that a person’s actions are the greatest indicators of what they truly believe. If we were to utilize that standard as the litmus test for elected officials we would come to the conclusion that most people have about many politicians they are full of shit.
How often do you see one side calling attention to tactics of the other while ignoring their own use of the same? We see the current elected official being crucified for exercising the same authority as his predecessor. The only difference is his/her political party. So, when your guy does it, its ok but when the other guy does it, its not? Much political discourse and punditry is merely a back and forth exchange of finger-pointing and blame akin to children on a playground.
I am saying nothing most of us have not thought of already but are politicians really the problem? Is the system really the problem? Or is it the electorate?
Politicians exist as they do because we allow them to and because we collude with a system where a man who runs on a platform of family values can solicit prostitutes and not be held accountable for such an egregious violation of integrity. Granted no one is perfect but family values and prostitution is a lapse in judgment that makes me question suitability for office.
We are content with a media that has turned politics into a reality show. More focused on drama and sensationalism than accurate reporting, mainstream media is the primary mechanism of the population’s complicity.
We either vilify or prop up elected officials reinforcing a system that knowingly deceives playing on emotion not logic, sound bites not solutions and divisiveness not unity. Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand…I do not expect the house to fall but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”
The house remains divided much like it was during Lincoln’s day and before. The specifics matter not. At the heart of the divide is the central issue that has prevented a great nation from actualizing its fullest potential- the us/them, win/lose, advantage at the expense of whoever is considered “other” mode of operation . The “United” States is an ideal not fully realized; the great melting pot more rhetoric than reality. In practice just the opposite has occurred. Examples intimately understood by the “other” and denied by the advantaged are too numerous to list.
And the divide persists. While there is strength in differing ideas and points of view, that strength is lost when one or multiple parties’ perspectives become entrenched positions. This is the demise of the problem solving process and this is our current political and social process.
Like it or not, we the people, are the government. Our elected officials are mirrors of a largely immature, self-centered and self-righteous public too blinded by childish demands, ignorance, greed and fear to see the walk toward its own demise. To the extent we are content to blame the problem on one person or one party is the extent to which we really do not fully understand the problem.
As we seek to blame, vilify and condemn we need to look no further than ourselves. We have traded negotiation and compromise in favor of winning at all costs. Everyone is upset yet no one is willing to own their role in the problem. A more productive and perfect union will never occur in the current climate. We must demand more of elected officials, the political system and, most importantly, ourselves.