By Partisan Ships

I’ll preface this by saying that for the first many years of my life to date, I paid no attention to politics whatsoever. I didn’t try to follow one party or the other, or the attempted progress of any of the flailing third-man-in parties that have tried to drum up support over the years. I never really cared to watch the subtle shifts in power, the changes in the climate of control that operates the vital functions of our country. I didn’t care for the split in the people, or in the houses of congress, or the issues driving these two entities further from one another than where they began; this kind of thing simply wasn’t interesting to my youthful mind. I kind of regret it, now, but that’s not something worth stewing on for the time being. The point is, when I was younger, the political situation, the “who”, “what”, and “how” of our system was explained in simple terms at school, and there was little need to be more involved than being able to regurgitate facts for quizzes during class and the like — and although I say I regret not having been more involved, more informed, there’s an even more terrifying change that I think has been taking place recently: these issues are no longer avoidable by the youth of today.

Now, there are two sides to this, of course — such is the way of things. On the one hand, this increased media blast (both from liberal and conservative leaning news organizations), the indulgence of political proselytism by musicians and actors, the heavy-handed nature of the firm beliefs of our forebears that shoves this down the kids’ throats these days leaves us with a generation that, most probably, will be better “informed” than the previous batch of glassy-eyed youngsters looking in on the process from the safety of their school desks; the other end of the spectrum, though, is that since the issues themselves have been marginalized, with partisanship standing in lieu of debate and toeing the party line overshadowing the premise of thinking things out for oneself, we also get a generation with a strong inborn hatred for the “other guys” who are, of course, vile, despicable creatures constantly grabbing at power in the upper echelons of our society.

Even recently hot issues — gay marriage rights, legalization of medical (or even recreational) marijuana, health care — have become backdrops to the ongoing war between Republican steadfastness and Democratic pseudo-socialism. The meat of the debates is cast aside, and we bear down on the most trivial of details: Which side of the fence does any particular issue fall on? Since I’ve started paying attention to politics, I’ve never seen a debate. I’ve seen on-screen blathering by opposing parties, bandying about whatever hotbutton bullsh*t is the topic du jour, but it’s always been a plaster-scene panorama masking the fact that neither individual is willing to stand up and say, in clear terms, what they believe or why they believe it. “It’s the way that God would want it to be” is just as much an argument as “I foresaw this in my tea leaves” or “An expert panel shows…” — meaningless fluff that seeks to puff up the claims of any given person, party, or other entity, constantly refutable by other interpretations of religious text, studies performed by different panels, or the use of a different type of tea that morning. There’s no substance — only a pandering to the sensibilities of right- or left-leaning Americans who rally behind someone who represents whatever cause they’ve elected to wave their banner for.

National tragedies become political platforms, forestalling public sympathy for those who have lost in favor of shuffling funding to and from the military. The wellbeing of the average American citizen becomes a statistic, broken into categories by degree-holding nitwits at the top of so-called ‘research panel’ firms, who can manipulate everything from statistics to targeted demographics to produce a poll that proves any point they want. The jobless rate is just a number, published to keep half-attentive office pundits employed in the business of reporting just how many are knocking at their doors asking for the cast-offs of monolithic corporations. We compartmentalize, drill down into segments of society so that we can alleviate the pain that comes with facing realistically the dilemmas striking the heart of our country.

For once, I’ll say this: I hope we hurt. I wish that every American, every single one, would feel the pain of what’s going on, and take that chance to actually think about things. Use the clarity that only an acute injury can bring to see past the smoke and mirrors act, and really consider the issues that are plaguing this nation. To not gloss things over, to not pretty them up with shiny news-agency animations or statistically-“relevant” graphs and charts — to approach the future with honesty about our weaknesses, pride in our strengths, and the famous ingenuity and endurance of the blue-collar American working man. To share the agony of our countrymen, and give of our own sweet success to ease their burden. To live and breathe; to succeed and fail; to rise and fall, as one nation (whether under God or not), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

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1 Comment

  1. drewflicker
    Posted 21 April, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Real debate still happens. It just happens *within* parties, instead of between parties. I’m a proud liberal, and aspects within the Democratic Party (or between other facets of the American Left) still engage in honest discussion and decision of policy. It just doesn’t happen with the “other side” (Republicans).

    That said, you can even get some real debate between liberals and conservatives, just not with Democrats and Republicans. (for the most part) A lot of normal, every-day working-class conservatives are intelligent and open to debate. It’s the Republican party, and much of the activist class, that’s unwilling to entertain honest discussion with those that disagree with them. (I’m sure this often happens with the Democratic Party as well, but I’ve not run across it as much, anecdotally)