A Low View Of Politics

By the end of the day, millions of Americans will have cast a vote for (or in some cases against) a certain candidate in the Super Tuesday primaries. I won’t be one of them.

My not voting has less to do with me being apathetic and not liking politics, and more to do with the fact that I’m still registered in White County and didn’t take the steps necessary to vote absentee.

Nevertheless, the fact that I didn’t vote won’t keep me up at night.

It’s not that I don’t care about political issues. On the contrary, on certain issues, I have very strong opinions, and on one particular issue, my views are so strong that they override everything else when I consider which candidate I should vote for (yeah, I’m one of those people).

Also, being a competitive person myself and a fan of all sorts of sporting events, I find the race for the presidency to be very interesting—contestants are pitted against each other to debate issues, statistics and polls are released, candidates drop out one by one until only the strongest (and Ron Paul) are left standing.

So because I care about some of the issues, and because the spectacle of a presidential race fascinates me, it’s pretty easy for me to get excited about politics sometimes. But then I remember what it is about the political world that I hate so much and turns me off.

First off, politics are deceptive. Okay, so that’s not exactly ground-breaking news, but hear me out. Certainly candidates do their best to make themselves look as appealing as possible and their opponents as bad as possible—they spin statistics, argue semantics and distort history to come across as good as they can—but that's not really the deception I’m talking about.

A salesman is basically someone who works to convince a customer that what the customer currently has is lacking and that his life would be greatly improved by having the salesman’s product instead. A politician is really just a salesman whose product is himself.

Inherent in the political system is the assertion (stated or otherwise) that currently, things are bad, and that they can only be fixed by electing a certain candidate who will change everything for the better.

But really, how bad are things?

People complain about the economy and a possible recession. I understand that there are problems with the economy, but at the end of the day, Americans are the richest people in the world! Who are we to be complaining? A single person making $10,210 (the poverty line in the U.S.) is in the top 13 percent of the richest people in the world! People in the middle class (i.e. people I hear complaining about this all the time) are in the top 1-2 percent!

People complain about the “oppressive” policies of the government. I understand that the Patriot Act creeps some people out, and I understand the concept of a “slippery slope” and how it is all too often used metaphorically to support an argument, but as I wrote about before, this idea that America has suddenly become a country of limited personal freedoms is ridiculous. People rail against the government and its policies every day, and strangely enough, they’re not being thrown into prison or branded with serial numbers.

People complain about the War in Iraq. I understand that many people are violently opposed to the War (irony intended), and I understand that the loss of any human life is tragic. Nevertheless, suggesting that Iraq (and the world) was better off with Saddam Hussein in charge and that the Iraq War is comparable to the Vietnam War (where American deaths were 15 times as high) is questionable at best and manipulative and deceptive at worst.

I don’t mean to imply that the US a perfect utopia; certainly, there are problems in this country, many of them. But to act as if everything is going downhill and our country is on the verge of disaster and that a certain candidate can come and save the day is irresponsible and, well, false.

Secondly, politics are divisive. By nature, they have to be. If all candidates were the same, there would be no reason to vote for anyone, so candidates spend most of their time emphasizing how they are different from each other.

The divisiveness isn’t limited to the candidates themselves. Political differences pit friends and family members against each other, and turn generally even-headed people into raving lunatics. Political differences prompt people (including myself, sadly enough) to question the intelligence, morality and even sanity of each other.

And it’s always like this; divisiveness is just a part of politics. One candidate, who I disagree with on several issues but like to hear speak, has spent a great part of his campaign emphasizing positive ideas like hope and unity, and yet, when push comes to shove, has been negative and divisive in his campaigning just like everyone else.

By the end of the day, the primaries of several more states will have been decided, and maybe we’ll have a better idea of who the nominees will be, but it will be several more months before a new President is elected.

Over that timespan, I’m sure I’ll follow the race with interest and even excitement. But there will be a lot of disgust mixed in there as well—some directed at the candidates, and some at myself as well.


The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

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