Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why Isn't Paul More Political?

(From a draft I never published in January of 2008.  Still relevant.  Perhaps even more so now)

Most who know me, know I have fairly strong political views. I can rant for hours about the Commander-In-Thief, his Penguin-esque puppet master, and the vast Right-Wing, corporate-led conspiracy, yet somehow these topics seldom - if ever - make it into my blogs.

I'm a rabid leftist. I was raised with fairly Libertarian governmental views and liberal social views, and they've stuck. In high school and college, I attended protests, boycotted products and companies, and espoused my leftist views at the drop of the proverbial hat. I still wear my beliefs on my sleeve, but these days, my sleeve is usually covered by my coat as I dart out the door to my next commitment to keep my family and life afloat.

My beliefs haven't changed much over the years. Particularly in these harsh economic times, I have become a bit more economically conservative, but my social and governmental perspective hasn't wavered. On the contrary, I think they have been reinforced as I manager to get older and (arguably) wiser, yet seem to not progress much financially. What has changed is my eagerness and ability to be the strong voice of change that I once was. This has happened for several reasons:

1) The discourse has degraded. With the advent of Fox News and the subsequent (and on occasion, sadly similar) liberal backlash, the political climate has deteriorated into a din of noise I simply can't tolerate, and just don't want to be a party to. It's like watching a serious debate turn into a WWF cage match with the entire audience flooding the ring and choosing sides. In the end, it just becomes a useless, bloody mess that resolves absolutely nothing. Sure, I could likely join in the fray and do some damage (as many of the participants on the other political side are the mental equivalent of Pee-Wee Herman in an inflatable muscle jacket), but I'm not exactly a Hulk Hogan when it comes to debate, myself. Words I can do. Fact-based arguments, however, are not my forte.

2) Choosing "sides" on any given issue/candidate isn't as easy as it (seemingly) used to be. I know that's naive of me to say, but as government has grown in depth and complexity, our resources for easily discerning the fact about how it truly operates have diminished. As black and white as either side of the media would like us to believe the political climate is these days, the simple fact is that it's not always easy to tell the good guys from the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Everyone had heard the line, "What publicly funded group has
29 members accused of spousal abuse, 7 have been arrested for fraud, 9 have been accused of writing bad checks, 117 have bankrupted at least two businesses, 3 have been arrested for assault," etc. The answer, of course, being the US Congress. The simple fact is, most politicians are hypocrites and/or bought and sold my major corporations and interest groups. Finding the true motives of most politicians and legislation is virtually impossible these days. Politicians and government officials hire ruthless professionals to hide their dirty laundry and humiliate their opposition, legislation is made so incredibly verbose and replete with "legalese" as to make it impossible for even the most educated and well-intentioned legislators to make an educated decision on, the Spin Machine has made deciphering REAL news from "infotainment" virtually impossible, and REAL investigative has gone the way of the Edsel. While the internet seems to have made all of the relevant public records readily available to anyone who can get to a computer, finding and filtering the pertinent information can take days or weeks, even for an experience research assistant. Which brings me to my final point...

3) Time. There simply ain't enough hours in the day. You've all heard me whine (practically in every blog) about how busy I am. Jobs, kids, school, family commitments, etc., all consume almost every minute of my day. The scant few I have remaining simply are not best spent rummaging through all of the information and becoming an unpaid investigative journalist. That's not my job (though some have suggested it should be). My virtually non-existent "free time" is better spent with my family and sorting out my own thoughts (here, for example) to maintain my sanity within my own microcosm. I could go on for pages about this, but if you want an idea of how busy I usually am, just read some of my older blogs.

In the end, it likely seems that I'm just another jaded non-voter who has lost faith in the American way of life. Not so. I still vote in virtually every election. I have not missed either a federal or state election in my entire voting life, that I can recall. I support my pet causes to the best of my ability. I have even considered running for public office myself on some local level, with the possibility of making public service (NOT politics - there's a BIG difference) my life in some way. I believe the system we have is quite possibly the best in human history...it's just broken. It can be fixed, but it'll take more than a few people with signs to initiate change. It will take a mass movement - a revolution, perhaps - that hits those in power where it hurts them most. No, not money - power. Sadly, money equals power in most situations - as it always has, it seems - but that's what motivates humanity: the power to control. Not necessarily the power to control others, but the power to control one's own destiny. It will take more than one man to accomplish this.

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