Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ryan On Politics. No, Not That Ryan.

Writing usually takes me a while because of this thing I have called “perfectionism”, or maybe “obsessive compulsive disorder”. Okay I don’t “really” have the latter, but I have the former enough to keep me from writing a lot of the time - that’s probably not a good thing. Sometimes. So if you couldn’t tell already, I’m throwing perfectionism out the window for now in the attempt to get some important things out of my head. Some important political things. Boy isn’t that just the type of sentence that can erase your childhood.
Some of these important political things might seem obvious. I wish they all did. Important either way: I’m non-partisan. I have preferences and opinions of course, and some of them are different than yours, so you may feel an overwhelming urge to label me as “from the other party”, but that would be doing both of us a disservice. More on that later, just know two things: don’t mistake my thoughts and ideas as “an agenda”, and as part of that don’t assume I think yours are thus invalid. Keeping an “open mind” may be vilified in some circles, but considering every angle helps you to UNDERSTAND PEOPLE, the most important of which being your self-person!
First up, the vitriol and drama. Politics is necessarily a popularity contest with all the negativity that conveys. There’s make-up, wardrobe, staging, and scripts. How things LOOK and how things are MADE TO LOOK affects opinions. Be aware/rise above, I don’t see this ever changing, but the vitriol is NEVER necessary. Are you personally offended by Obama/Romney as a person? Does his very name start to make you angry? Do you HATE? Good gosh WHY? Because the issues are important, because you’re outraged with injustices (perceived or real), etc. Blanket statement: NONE of these necessitate hate, especially in any focused way. Vitriol is the symptom though - polarization is the problem.
Some people hold opinions to the far left or right (it’s true!), but always viewing those as the only options won’t get you, or us, anywhere. Some might think this statement is just proof that the other side has already lulled me over with such buzzwords as “tolerance” and “open mindedness”, but the third option is: there IS a third option. Maybe I’m just being normally tolerant and open-minded, and doing that doesn’t cancel out any of my beliefs or opinions? Somebody besides me MUST have a point about something, and I should be happy when I find it! Only visting 2 or 3 staunchly conservative websites all the time, listening to and parroting the same conservative talk shows over and over - you’re not getting the whole story. Period. Always. Reinforce your beliefs with the fruits thereof, not more of your beliefs.
It’s worth talking about why the country is so polarized, but a big reason is that it’s right where the parties want you - as far to their side as possible. Call that a conspiracy theory or the specification of a general trend(s), but that’s why grossly hyperbolic and/or confusing political ads exist; why talk-show personalities spin like a rabid top. Black and white. If you’re not with me you’re against me. A more harmful mindset is hard to come by. It doesn’t help that some of us see fit to imbue some of our opinions with “right” or “wrong” where none should exist, especially morally. This isn’t an absolute (that’s kind of the whole point here), I believe in right and wrong, but many -probably most- issues don’t warrant that distinction. You may disagree and wish to show me that such-and-such issue is, in fact, an exact science. That’s great, I honestly welcome the information, but the “other side” is going to do the same thing perhaps just as compellingly, and neither of you have the 100% “right” answer. That’s okay!
The effects of polarization? Government gridlock. Crappy compromises (not that compromising is crappy, just crappy compromises are crappy). That vitriol thing I talked about. Gridlock again, but this time IT’S IN YOUR HEAD MAN, NOWHERESVILLE DUDE. (I find it fantastic that any one side thinks it can blame the other for all the stalemating, or that either presidential candidate could be responsible. So if Romney gets elected and is able to “reach across the isle”, doesn’t that say more about the Democrats in congress than it does about his own abilities? I guess it’s win/win because then you get to criticize the current administration for the crappy compromises you forced them to make.) Moving on.
Gun control. I see two truths: the right to keep and bear arms is out there for a good great reason, and should be, but 2) America has an unhealthy obsession with guns. The obsession may be historic, but it’s also horrific. I’m not proposing any solutions here, might not be one, but don’t champion the right while ignoring the price. We already HAVE gun laws so there must be something there, maybe these are some laws that need to change with the times. Relax I said “maybe.”
Socialized medicine. We’re the only industrialized nation without it. Close friend nations like Canada and the UK seem pretty darn happy with it, even proud of it. Kind of makes me think if everyone (Washington, us) was trying to make it work, we could make it work great. At the very least I’m currently experiencing first hand that the way health insurance is tied to having a full-time job is garbage. We’re all scared of welfare and the scams that accompany it, I agree, I’m all for helping people help themselves, but I’m not sure this fits. This is basic healthcare. HEALTH! If we could make something that worked you wouldn’t be for it? I imagine that’s not the issue, so the question might be if the current half measures (“crappy compromises”, see above) are enough.
Money. This was a big one for me this year. Maybe because I saw these movies: Inside JobCasino Jack and the United States of Money (that’s the documentary, not the Kevin Spacey movie), and The Corporation (link to the full film). Good gosh watch them (or the first two at least, The Corporation goes a bit further than the others, but we’re all out for the good things in everything now right?). If you blow them off as leftist propaganda that you can do without then at least I know where we can stop the conversation, but I walked away with something undeniable: money has amazingly too much influence in politics. It may not be anything new, but it’s worse than ever, and it has as much a chance as “destroying America” as any of those other things you heard about today. Maybe more! Please literally forget all the “class war” buzzwords you’ve heard and tell me straight up: the current income/wealth gap between the 1 and 99% is totally fine and normal.
As near as I can tell, those that believe this espouse allowing the freedom of the 1% to do what they’ve done/continue to do because that’s their right and freedom and American Dream etc. Impossible not to understand that, but is this worth that freedom? In fact, this is often what I tell myself about a lot of this - people jealously protect their freedoms, and it’s so important to them they’ll protect those that take advantage of it right along with them. At that point it becomes a question of where the line is drawn, or where the laws are drawn, rather. In this case there’s a long history of businesses using their money to chip away at those laws, so why is now better than before? Was it socialism in the 50s etc when one job was enough for a family to live comfortably (The Corporation doc touches on this I think)? No lobbyists, corporate responsibility, jailing wall street bankers - all socialism? Is one socialist policy socialism on the whole for that matter? Is that slope really that slippery, or is the Constitution that stable? Cake and eat it too?
You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve been sitting at my computer now, I know Kandie sure doesn’t. I tried to be fairly basic, like I said I’d hope most of this is obvious, and feel free to interchange liberal/conservative where I failed to do so myself. Really, I think we often don’t realize home much we ravenously dig that rut and try to live there for as long as we can. Do we always eat the same food because it’s good or because it’s familiar? Little of both, sure, but I had some kimchi the other day for the first in a long while, and although I don’t think I’ll be eating some more for… a while, I’m still intensely fascinated by how it tasted! 
I guess I’ll shut-up and go vote now.