I Hate Politics

There. I just came out and said it, right in front of everybody. Do I need to be clearer? I’ll say it again, more slowly this time: I…hate…politics.

Photo: Wisdom Sleeps

Is it my imagination, or has wisdom gone to sleep?

In general, I would like to never even think of myself as a person who Hates anything, but of course, that’d make me more than human, and I’m not. I certainly prefer not to be a person who dwells on my hatred of anything, let alone advertises it, but lately I’m finding it more difficult than usual to show that kind of restraint. A large part of my resolve (and I’m confident that this is a relatively common trait) is highly susceptible to external cues. I prefer to keep my head in the sand about things I don’t like, disapprove of, and fear, but that’s easier to do when those things aren’t pouring down on me as though run through a hose, and let’s face it, sand is water-permeable. The omnipresence of political nonsense on the American scene these days is drowning me.

Contemporary America is a highly politicized land. Everything is treated as political fodder and the subject of constant shouting, most especially those ideas to which we impute moral or ethical value, and the number of such ideas seems to grow exponentially by the minute. Additionally, we allow less and less room for anything other than Right and Wrong, Yes and No; everything worth discussing is a matter of polar opposites, and if Your answer is not like My answer, then it’s not only an obvious falsehood but patently evil and an attack on my person. Probably on my race, my culture, my sexual identity, my religion, my favorite football team, and my country. This is the environment in which all discussions must be arguments, and all arguments, wars.

If it weren’t real, it’d be hilarious.

The way we treat each other over differing viewpoints is bad enough. The way we treat each other over differing beliefs is worse. So if what began as a discussion about fiscal responsibility gets turned instantly into the idea that ‘Your Party’s thoughts on what’s wrong with the national economy and what would be better are Evil and My Party’s are Holy’—which has nothing to do with the demonstrable facts in the matter, let alone with either side offering any suggestion of how to fix what both could have agreed were the biggest problems—then why not just skip the discussion and appeals to reason, and get right on with punching each other’s lights out? And what should begin with the recognition of each other as fellow humans, all susceptible to our imperfections yet all, potentially, respected equals if not allies or friends, instead starts out with an assumption of all others as our inferiors, as damaged, or as willfully wicked. Even some of the most well-meaning politicians and their supporters often cross the line between being opposed to a practical, legal, or political precept and condemning all those who fail to fully agree with or support them as being immoral and/or stupid.

Photo: Masked Marauder

No matter how we may try to mask them, our true natures come out when politics get going.

I understand about passionately held beliefs and feelings. And I understand that many people in my country equate their passionately held beliefs and feelings, since these have often been arrived at by means of heartfelt thought and study or even, frequently, by what they are sincerely certain is some form of direct communication from a Higher Power, also know in their hearts and minds that these must be the governing directives of the nation. But as much as they might love to live in a theocracy, this country is officially not that, and in fact was founded in fear of and opposition to the idea that one specific religion should not only dominate but control or outlaw all others. As much as those whose beliefs and feelings tell them this should be officially a godless country might wish it so, that too would oppose the founding precept that one’s religious inclination, or leaning entirely away from religion, was not the defining factor that should govern the nation. I don’t hate religion or religious people, nor agnostics, nor atheists. What drives me crazy is people who confuse or conflate their moral systems with the functions and dysfunctions of American law. And that it gets in the way of what could so often be less hostile, more productive discourse.

Along with deistic religions and anti-religions, we are a country full of secular religions, which in my view (!) comprise not only the commonly referred to ones like ‘alternative belief systems,’ say, non-theistic philosophies, but also major social and educational and fiscal ideologies, and most especially, the pursuit of power and wealth. Whether the latter two come through the romanticized American ideal means of being honest, hard-working, and clever or by means of being successfully manipulative and lucky may again be the matter of much debate, most of it driven by our own takes on morality. But we give great leeway to those who achieve one or the other, and most of all, to those who garner both. And then we revile them for having risen too high.

Photo: Not to be a Big Pig about It...

I can’t help feeling like we’re a bunch of wild pigs, and I, the worst bore among them.

So we find ourselves in the throw-hat-into-ring stage of pre-election politics, as we get to do every four years in this country, and are more than ever inundated with that outpouring of purulent political sputum and venom that makes us all resemble some kind of hideous mutated hybrid, Homo sapiens Ultimate Fighting x Grand Theft Auto, rather than reasoning rhetoricians in debate and the pursuit of a nation’s better future. I suppose that it’s only natural we Americans should so commonly say that candidates for public office here have thrown their hats into the ring, given the phrase’s pugilistic origins. But it’s an unpleasant characteristic of ours, to say the least, that we seem to prefer combativeness to dialogue and action to diplomacy or contemplation.

We’re even expert at redefining all sorts of things; it makes it easier to take sides when we make sides. So not only do we have a supposed bipartisan political system—a concept problematic enough, if anyone actually intended to encourage and support any attempt at accurate representation of a wholly diversified national population—but the reigning parties are called Republican and Democratic. At face value, sensible enough, considering that this country is theoretically a constitutionally limited democratic republic, by definition. Yet neither party’s identity is fully congruent with the concept for which it’s named, nor perhaps was it ever so. The present version of each party is dramatically different from its own historic identity in many ways, too, because the national population’s majority and minority concerns and desires have continued to change over time. And don’t get me started on how different, how varied, are the definitions both parties and individuals give to words like Conservative and Liberal in pursuit of political ends. No worries; masses of us who are too lazy or foolish to examine the evidence or question the sources will simply fall into line and start passing on the same stuff as though it had any validity, spreading it on thickly and dispersing it far and wide.

Photo: All We, Like Sheep

Follow the herd, or you’re un-American!

What it all means to me is that my normal level of intense distaste for all things political ratchets up higher and higher with every moment that puts us closer to any election, but especially, to presidential ones. Every day seems to add another clownish, insecure, angry, prejudiced, reckless, self-aggrandizing, high-powered fool of one sort or another happy to thoughtlessly throw gasoline on the fires with word and action, without regard for all of us other clowns. Keep a good thought for all of us: this country, that we might somehow rise above all of our petty normalcies, and yes please, for me. That I don’t just go crazier than usual myself before all of this quiets down a bit again.

Photo: It's a Real Head-Scratcher

Am I crazy, or is this whole thing just a serious head-scratcher?

20 thoughts on “I Hate Politics

  1. F’ing Brilliant Kathryn!!!! I am so damn fed up and angry and I know it flies in the face of my better nature. We are being played and manipulated toward aggression of our fellow citizens and my frustration is palpable. Again…brilliantly written!

    • Thank you! So generous of you. It really is astonishing how much our culture feeds off of angst, anger and argumentativeness.
      Just had to blow off some steam, obviously. 😉
      Here’s to better days (and attitudes) ahead!
      Cheers,
      Kathryn

  2. Pingback: I Hate Politics | SwittersB & Exploring

  3. The pics are really awesome. Your entry is brilliantly written.

    The Weasel would rather stay away from politics. What I can add though is that one can see how is like having a religion to be the state law. It is enough to take a look at some countries in the Middle East.

    • Yes, there are long and *very* colorful histories of theocratic governments all over the world, not many of them any more successful or perfect than any other form. I find it intriguing that so many forms of government sound perfectly reasonable and even excellent ‘on paper’ or in theory, but none that I’ve seen can fully avoid the problems of being run by fallible humans, so they never quite work as planned!
      Kathryn
      PS—I think Weasels are mostly too smart to fall into any of that sort of trap, though. 😉

  4. I keep well away from politics. A brilliantly articulated piece Kathryn, the like of which I couldn’t have written in a million years!

    Our pre-election debates are horrendous here, all like aggressive animals waiting to attack physically. I find it difficult to trust any of them; so many times after years have passed we find politicians being brought to justice for sexual offences. In fact there is one currently in the news and it’s awful, all the more because he is dead an no longer here to face up to what he has very likely, done. And ta year or so ago there was the massive outcry because of many members of Parliament having fiddled their expenses to the tune of hundreds of thousands.

    How can any of them be trusted to, and effectively and more importantly, fairly, run the country?! xx

    • Not only do we have all kinds of miscreants who rise to office and only later are revealed in their true colors, it’s often *because* of their peccadillos—financial, sexual, intellectual, ethical, etc—that they both clamber to the top of the heap and then get knocked off of it. I can’t begin to count how many of the noisiest and most notorious public official haters of illegal aliens have undocumented gardeners and housekeepers and mistresses; screaming homophobes turn out to have had multiple affairs, some of them same-sex; pious preachers of their brands of sectarian or secular purity turn out to be shameless thieves….

      What offsets it best is every tiny glint of levelheadedness, humaneness, logic, and civility that appears on the horizon, and thank goodness that they still DO. It’s these that keep me getting out of bed in the morning. 🙂

      Love,
      K

  5. This is a wonderfully written piece and I completely agree. I tried to be involved in politics a long time ago. It just brought me physical stress and heartache.
    I now basically let the uneducated masses govern my fate by vote. If I could, I would move to the least governed part of the world. I would love to be on my own, no one to take my stuff, no one to give me other’s stuff, and no one in my business.

    “I was once asked what I want from my government. I said, “NOTHING!”

    • Yeah, I think my answer would be one word, too: Distance. 😉 But I stay in this country (thus far, of course!) because for all of its flaws, I think there’s enough good in its laws and people and intentions to offset the ill, if only barely at times. If any of the many genuinely terrifying possible candidates we’re inundated with at the moment should get elected (and I will refrain from being more specific), all bets might be off in that regard. Meanwhile, I just try not to think about it too extensively between panic attacks. 😉
      K

  6. Great photos. I hate how every issue is turned into a debate rather than a polite discussion aimed at trying to fix things.

    • *What???!!!* *Polite?* FIX things? You must be mad! 😉 I fantasize that someday there will be more people who value manners and civility of a genuine, respectful sort over even the glossed-over variety we get if we’re lucky right now. Never quite giving up hope! 🙂

  7. The price we pay for living in free and open society. All politicians lie. That is and always has been the case. Many of them are crooks again that is an always has been the case. If one wants less conflict they can move to countries where everyone agrees or no one can express a different opinion. What a pain it is to live in the USA.

    • Well, of course, all *humans* lie, but most of us have neither the power and resources nor the will to do so for such patently political (and ultimately, still self-serving) ends. I have yet to see another nation or even another form of government that seems by any stretch of the imagination Perfect, or even necessarily much better than ours, and I do think that the majority of life in the US is not only not a pain but pleasant. Certainly, countries where differences of opinion are discouraged or oppressed are about as far from conflict-free as you can get. I just wish that when we Americans all came to the table to set up policies, look at points of law, consider the national and/or public good, and especially, elect officials, we could do so with a larger helping of plain decency and without yelling about it. Agreement is far from essential for *that*. 😉

  8. Nicely said Kathryn. It is so upsetting to watch “grownups” acting like children without skills. Politics seems to have so many parallels to child care. Uffda!

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