My Political Ennui

I recently posted my thoughts on certain aspects of religion.  Some folks enjoyed it, while I’m sure others were greatly offended.  With that in mind, I’ve decided to stick my toe into the deep waters of politics to ensure offending the other half.

I was asked once why I don’t post a lot of political musings on Facebook and Twitter.  I don’t really have a good answer other than it’s just too serious for me.  I deal with a lot of serious issues in my job.  I prefer to get away from all that when I’m not at work.  Like most of the decisions I make in my personal life, not much thought goes into it. Also, politics just doesn’t interest me much.  As a result, I can’t think of anything good to say, as will be shown below.

If you post a lot of political stuff, please read the following:

 I AM OKAY WITH YOUR DOING THAT.  JUST BECAUSE I DON’T DO SOMETHING DOESN’T MEAN I AM AGAINST THOSE WHO DO. 

Thank you.  Also, I don’t mind reading stuff with which I disagree.  Someone much smarter than I am once said that he never learned anything from people with which he agreed.  That’s certainly true for me.

I DO have political views, of course.  I’m just not sure everyone wants to hear about them.  Plus, nothing is more ponderous than a political argument.  You think what you think.  I think what I think.  I’ve had enough political discussions to know that we’re not going to change each other’s minds.

A bartender told me one time that the worst customer was the guy who sits at the bar and tries to engage in political banter with the other patrons.  He said nothing clears the barstools quicker.

As with most things, I am cynical about politics.  I’m also the type who tends to distrust anyone in power.  This makes it hard for me to become all starry-eyed over any politician.  Mostly, I just don’t care.  With that in mind, I’ll offer some of my political observations and thoughts.

WHAT AM I?

The most important thing for anyone who reads political rants is to determine at the earliest possible moment whether the writer is a conservative or a liberal.  It’s not conservative or liberal.  It’s a conservative or a liberal.  Your tag.  What ARE you?

Well, I’m not telling.  Folks who know me well know the answer.  Folks who don’t know me well are usually confused.  Those on the far left think I’m an arch-conservative.  The hard right think I’m a wild-eyed liberal.  Maybe I am.  Or not.

THIS AIN’T NO PARTY.  THIS AIN’T NO DISCO.

Life During Wartime is one of the catchiest songs ever.  Unfortunately, I’m not talking about those Talking Heads.  I’m talking about the ones that fill the airwaves and blogosphere with their opinions about politics.  They don’t even wear that cool giant suit like David Byrne.

For someone bored by most political debates, I listen to, and read, a surprising amount of political ravings.  And I’m not picky about it, either.  Oh, and I disagree with almost everything I hear and read, whether it’s Beck, Limbaugh, Maddow, Olberman or any of the countless other disembodied heads and voices which have somehow found public forums.  In fact, Howard Stern may be the only person with whom I agree most of the time.  I don’t know what that means, but I’m sure it’s nothing good.

Conservative talkers are more entertaining than the liberal ones.  That’s just a fact.  Here’s why:  They’re basically entertainers.  Beck and Limbaugh are DJ’s.  A good DJ and a good program director can entertain doing the same things at the same time every single day.  Howard Stern does that, too.  He knows what his audience wants to hear and delivers it consistently.

Take Glenn Beck. If he believes everything he says, he’s a mad man. In his world, there is a massive worldwide conspiracy to turn the planet into a caliphate ruled by Van Jones and William Ayers. This world will be a Mad Max nightmare with cites burning and no food or fuel.  We’ll eat our dogs. Only Glenn and his Byzantine wall of chalk boards stand between us and this fate. Of course, if we pull the right lever or punch the right chad, it will all go away.

I’m sure he doesn’t really believe all that, but that’s not the point. His fans (and that’s what they are) WANT to believe that. He knows that. Like a DJ playing Li’l Wayne or Lady GaGa nonstop, he knows what his audience wants.  He delivers.

The folks on the left have never figured out the entertainment angle. Al Franken used to have a radio show. It was awful. Al was serious and angry most of the time. Al Franken is one of the funniest people on Earth. If you can read his book Why Not Me? without laughing out loud, you are a soulless, humorless person.  Al seemed to think he  was educating people.  Wrong.  Howard Stern says his listeners love lesbians. Thus, he has lesbians on his show. He doesn’t try to convince the world to love lesbians.  Beck’s listeners want to believe in wordwide caliphates.  The left thinks they can convince the world they are right. Just find your audience and tell them what they want hear–everyday over and over.

Anger can sell, too.  Sean Hannity is an angry dude. I suspect his devoted audience is pretty angry.  He’s good at fueling that.  He’s outraged daily over everything.  Bad news outrages him but not as much as good news.  If a Republican candidate murdered his entire family, Sean would rail against the Mainstream Media for failing to report that Charles Manson was a Democrat.  It’s his schtick.

Sean’s not the only angry fellow.  Take Keith Olberman, for example.  He’s so mad at the right that he’s hateful about it.  Plus, he’s unpleasant, which may explain why he gets fired from his jobs.  His counterpart on the right, Michael Savage, is also too angry.  I think that’s why I usually hear him at night.  Really angry people probably sit by the radio at night brooding.

The real news media is no better.  Let’s say that unemployment drops.  Here’s the MSNBC headline (in typeface normally reserved for declarations of war):

UNEMPLOYMENT FALLS TO TWO YEAR LOW!

Here is the Fox News headline:

WHAT’S THE REAL STORY BEHIND SO-CALLED LOWER UNEMPLOYMENT?

If this is how you stay informed, good luck to you.  I’d rather watch reruns of Hillbilly Handfishin’.  If you ever get a chance watch the 1950’s film, A Face in the Crowd, directed by Elia Kazan.  Elia knew what was coming. 

What’s this have to do with me?  Not much, other than I will listen to this stuff, and it wears me out.  I’d hate to think that I’m like any of these folks or, worse, the people who call their shows or believe everything they read.  I’m find them entertaining, but none of this shapes my views, whatever they might be.

I’M NOT ALWAYS RIGHT, BUT I’M NEVER WRONG, AND NEITHER ARE YOU.

One of the fundamental tenets of politics is that I must:  (1) Agree with everything my politician supports; and (2) Disagree with everything my opponent supports.  A caveat to that is that if I do, in fact, agree with my opponent, I must somehow give credit to someone I like, regardless of the analytical gymnastics required to do so.

I just can’t do this.  Sometimes, both sides are so adamant about not giving any credit to the other that they won’t acknowledge that something good actually works. Here’s an example:  The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was devised by Hank Paulson under George W. Bush.  It had one purpose:  To prevent the collapse of the American banking system from the top down.  I scoffed at it, mostly because Hank Paulson looks evil.  I was wrong.  Bad wrong.  It had bi-partisan support, and it worked, albeit a little differently than originally planned.  No one wants to claim TARP now, because both sides have called it a bank bail out for so long.  BOTH SIDES SUPPORTED IT!  The right calls it big government gone wild, and the left calls it corporate welfare.   The result is that neither side will endorse it out of fear that the other side will make them look bad.  That’s insanity. 

Here’s another one.  Osama Bin Laden is dead.  Both President Bush and President Obama deserved credit for this.  Job well done, men.  Republicans will grudgingly say that Obama deserves credit for following Bush’s lead.  Democrats say that Obama has succeeded where Bush wholly failed.  It took 10 freaking years to find this guy!  Let’s face it.  It was a team effort. 

I’m not always right.  In fact, I’m frequently wrong.  I’m also brighter than most of the clods we elect to office.  They can’t be right or wrong all the time, either.  

LCD ISN’T JUST A COOL TV

Politicians cater to the Least Common Denominator (LCD).   Come on, you know it’s true.  That’s why they spend so much time trying to scare the bejesus out of us.  It’s not enough to point out the serious flaws in government health care.  We must talk about death panels and forced euthanasia, too.  If you support a tax increase on the wealthy, you must do so by claiming that the wealthy are a group of elitists destroying the country and exploiting the rest of usThe LCD likes all that talk.

You know LCD.  He’s the guy who can believe any of the following:

  • I am poor but will benefit by other people becoming rich.
  • I am poor but the government will help me become affluent.
  • Although I am too old, infirm or just plain too sorry to be in the military, I support all wars.
  • I resent Mexicans for taking the jobs I don’t want anyway.
  • A tax increase would be a good idea, as long as it’s not my taxes.
  • There is a massive conspiracy about something.
  • Although I’ve never read the Constitution, I know that anything I don’t like is unconstitutional.

Those are just a few examples.  The LCD and I don’t geehaw, as they say.  You aim at him, and you miss me.  Back to Hillybilly Handfishin’.

POLITICIANS

Another big reason I lose interest in politics is that I don’t really care much for politicians.  They’re overpaid and underworked.  Congress has a 10% approval rating.  The only thing surprising about this is that apparently 10% of those polled didn’t understand the question. 

U-S-A! U-S-A!

I live in the United States of America, the greatest country on Earth.  Why do I say that?  Two reasons:  (1) I do, in fact, live in the USA; (2) I’ve never lived anywhere else, and my life is pretty damn sweet.  Why wouldn’t I believe that?

According to Wikipedia (the source of all my knowledge), there are over 200 countries on Earth.  I couldn’t possibly figure out if the US is better than all of them.  Now, I’ll dare to assume that we’re better than a lot of them:  India, Mexico, most of the Middle East, Commies, any country ending in “stan,” all the really cold places, Bangladesh and Canada.  I’ll also throw in any country with a goofy-ass royal family.  That still leaves a bunch of countries that may be just fine.  What’s the point of this?

Here’s the point:  We’re Americans, by God.  As Bill Murray famously said in Stripes, we’re the mutts of the world.  We’ve been thrown out of every decent country on the planet.  Even people with whom I disagree are Americans.  We always end up okay, even in the midst of our fights, because we’re Americans.  I don’t hate others because of their politics.  I have good friends who are polar opposites of me politically.  So what?  They are my fellow mutts.

Here’s the other point.  Even those in power are my fellow mutts.  I don’t want them to fail and destroy the country just so my candidates get elected.  I don’t think these folks are engaged in conspiracies to bring down the republic.  Maybe they’re misguided or just plain stupid.  Just because I disagree doesn’t make them evil Communists, Socialists, Nazis or closeted Caliphs. It may make them idiots or it may make me one.  Time will tell.

SO, WHAT I AM?

Figured it out, yet?  Neither have I.  Here’s a small list of my likes, dislikes and general grumblings to assist us both:

  • I don’t think you should wildly spend money you don’t have.
  • Congress is full of idiots.
  • Occupy Wall Street was pointless. 
  • We’ve had two good presidents in my lifetime.
  • I am an abashed, unapologetic supporter of the coal industry. 
  • I don’t care whom you marry as long as it isn’t a child.
  • You can read or watch anything you want, as long as no one is harmed
  • I’m not “green.”  I drive a foreign car with an internal combustion engine, and I like it. 
  • You have the right to hate people.
  • I don’t like wars, but I greatly respect the military.  There should be a law that the person who starts the war should be the first to die for his country.   
  • I don’t like religion mixed with government.  
  • You have the right to carry a gun
  • I supported the war in Afghanistan but not the one in Iraq.
  • I don’t care about my neighbor’s religion or lack thereof.
  • I don’t care if you’re gay.  I’ve spent most of my time around straight people, and they’ve been no treat.
  • I don’t hate Muslims.
  • I don’t mind paying taxes, but I want to pay the least required.
  • Not all poor people deserve to be poor.
  • Almost anything the government touches gets worse, not better.
  • I don’t believe in any conspiracies, except ones where people have been caught
  • It doesn’t bother me that Hispanics speak Spanish.  My ancestors in Pennsylvania spoke German, and Ben Franklin wanted them thrown out of the country.
  • I have no interest in what you do in your bedroom.
  • You can protest whatever you want.

There you have it.  What am I?  A mess, evidently.  But, I’m an American, by God!

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

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