When the United States was still a nascent creation, the political was the realm of the learned, the influential, those of means, along with y chromosomes. This elite citizenry comprised the only members of society who geld the power to both grasp the issues of the day and determine the course that the nation would take, carefully measuring the ramifications of possible outcomes. The fragile existence of the country lay with these men. Today, most Americans hold these men in the highest regard as the founders of our great nation.
Also today, any information on any issue is just a mouse click away. Any subject ever conceived can be discovered and discussed; yet when it comes to the political realm, it is still undiscovered, misinterpreted or dangerously ignored by the masses. The difference today is startling because whereas the engagement in politics used to be a privilege, today it is a subject longing to be studied by the citizens whose lives it so affects. No longer reserved only for those with the means, capacity and time to become educated, the proverbial kid with a library card can look up any issue well beyond his MPAA rating limit. And yet…
To disengage oneself from the discussion, to be above the fray is deemed enlightened. Here are common attributes of the politically ambiguous:
-The unaffiliated or independent voter who doesn’t know that independent is an actual political party that must be joined in order to claim affiliation. However, this naive independence would be undermined by such an affiliation because of the desire to be unaffiliated. Politics, to such outsiders, is a petty, ugly, corrupt game not worthy of attention more than once every four years. And while I cannot disagree with the first three, it is worthy of the attention of all citizens for they ignore it at their own peril. The disinterest, disguised as profound, has created the system that is so despised.
-“I vote the person, not the party.” Well bully for you! Whether you like it or not, if that person has a prayer of winning the election, that person is most likely a member of one of the two major political parties (for those really not paying attention either Republican or Democrat). These parties have competing platforms, agendas and campaigns. (and other nomenclature generally reserved for construction, the PTA and warfare) Your “special” person is the recipient of party generated campaign funds and possesses opinions on the myriad topics that drive the political system. Even if the money speaks with the same voice, and the opinions are (not bloody likely) identical to the voter, the two part system does not idealize that person in quite the same way. Legislatures have majorities and as they say, majorities rule. EXAMPLE: say your person is a middle of the road politician who is in either major party but does not agree with some of the more controversial views of that party. Your person is elected by people who like the attitude of standing up for what you believe, against friend and foe alike. Now, this win, by this person just so happens to be the deciding vote to determine the majority of the legislature. “So Johnny, tell ‘em what they’ve won!!!…” now the majority party, with whom this special, principled, independently thinking candidate disagrees on controversial topics, still gains control to implement policies on those issues that are contrary to the desires of the candidate. ( and the voting voter who votes the person)
-Any modern hatred towards politics is entirely understandable as it is a base endeavor where optimistic virtue is sacrificed to the God of cynical contempt. However, perhaps it helps (or makes this irredeemably worse) to know that this frustration is not so modern. Generally speaking, humans have always viewed government as a necessary evil and politics is the manner with which that government is governed. Any persistent anger with politicians is a bit misdirected. As with most modern emotional afflictions, to discover the source of discomfort, one need only look inward. In this modern age where information exists on a 24 hour news cycle, and with a regularly elected representative government at the helm, the fault really does lie with those who are in charge of the government. The people, the citizens of the United States. In a representative democracy, the people get the government that they deserve. There are quite a few variations on this but the bottom line is that a disinterested citizenry is not absolved of duty.
-There are those who just don’t feel as though they possess enough information to take part in the discussion. Ironically enough, I have found that those who make such a claim generally follow it up with a bit of faux-humility: “I am too smart not to know.” To these gifted folks with the ignoble tendency toward apathy- READ, LEARN, INFORM YOURSELF. Listen to the radio, watch the news, check online. Stop reveling in the irony of your intelligence. Help yourself to help yourself.——— There is a subcategory to the uninformed: the dedicated, single issue voter. Why bother with the pettiness of economics? Abortions and marriage for all (or some or none). This is much like the cave of which Plato wrote. Look beyond the shadows and find that self-interest goes beyond the heated social issues to which so many voters cling.
What is the purpose of all of this madness? Why should those who have never cared start to care instead of simply continuing along the previously uncontested course of not caring??
Nothing changes if nothing changes. There is a financially unsustainable system in place that continues unabated walking hand in hand with rampant injustice sponsored by the bureaucracies of government. The powers that be are accustomed to a populace that will disapprove of a congress that continues to win elections and insulates the aristocratic leadership that depends on willful ignorance. In order to mend the fractures, the people must acknowledge what is actually broken, beyond the platitudes of “vote them all out”. Claim the right to your own informed opinion, take a stand in the direction of your own life, the life of your family, your country. Know that the problem exists in part, because of the uninformed populace but that the solution exists in that same body. Empower yourself. At this time in history, technology provides humanity with potential access to all knowledge ever possessed. In this country, the last best hope on Earth, we have access to the tools left us by the original directors of this country: our Declaration and our Constitution. These gifts empower Americans to achieve the best possible future for this nation and when so needed, change course and avoid the ruin that ends in the ash can of history. As citizens and voters you need but reach for these tools. Do so as informed citizens with the desire to leave this country better than it was when it was found, and founded.
“An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will.” Thomas Jefferson