Friday, October 5, 2012

Politics Need You

I'm not sure what people mean when they say, "I'm just not that into politics."

The sentence just doesn't compute. It lacks meaning in my mind. Because I'm pretty sure, we must be talking about two different things. Because when someone says, "I'm just not that into politics," I imagine they mean, "I'm not into name-calling," or "I don't like arguing," or "I'm not into backstabbing, untruthful rhetoric, and the shenanigans often associated with politics." Yeah, I get that. But, to me, their not talking about politics.

By definition, politics is "the art or science of running governmental or state affairs." It doesn't have to be ugly. It doesn't have to mean throwing rocks or picking sides. The word "politics"--in and of itself--is completely neutral; it's the energy and charge from the rest of us that makes it so messy.

According to Wikipedia:
"Modern political discourse focuses on democracy and the relationship between people and politics. It is thought of as the way we "choose government officials and make decisions about public policy". [2]"

Seems a little less, nasty. Right? The political process is how we make decisions about public policy. About how schools, roads, and buildings are built. About where we'll delegate our time and money: foreign affairs, war, environment, public education, social security, and so on. Politics are the venue through which we--as normal, non-Congressional peeps--get a say in what our country stands for. 

And everyone has an opinion. Everyone. But each of us cares more or less about different things. 

Some will live and die over green-house gases, GMOs, pesticides, and landfills. 

Some just want their kid to get the best education possible and recognize that voting for one candidate will give their kid more opportunities than the other candidate.

Some people will yell and scream about the economy and the national debt crisis; about who did and what, and what should be done to that person who did that thing. 

Some just want safe neighborhoods and others want to earn the money they deserve for the work they do. 

We all care about politics. But we all care differently.

Because everyone has something about America that they wish were different. Whether it's that gas were cheaper or the air were cleaner. And the way I see it, around presidential election time, everyone starts yelling louder and louder about the America they want. And we're all allowed to do so, because we live in a democratic society. And those who are passionate about certain issues will find a way to make their voice be heard. And those who know their voice will not be heard among the screamers, end up saying, "I'm just not that into politics."

And this makes me sad. Because I know that deep-down we all have a picture of how we wish America were different and each of those pictures need to be seen and explained and talked about. And even though, I don't agree with everyone's picture, I respect it. And I acknowledge their right to have it. Even when I want to smack them. I don't.

So, if you consider yourself to be someone who "just isn't that into politics," consider what you believe would make America better. Please, please do not vote how you "should" or what your parents would vote. Look at a solid fact-check website or side-by-side comparison of which candidates best align with your views, and then...join the discussion. It doesn't have to be ugly.

We need you.

2 comments:

Anthony said...

Heather, let me first of all say that I agree with you. But how can I be allowed to "express" myself and choose the picture I want when I see the top two candidates as two shades of the same grey and ill-portrayed images of the America I want? This story is already wrapped up whether I like it or not. Do you want to be shot in the head or stabbed to death? Well, neither. Sorry, that's not an option, the media has spoken. I feel that when people say, "I'm not into politics," many are saying, "I have no voice! I don't want anything you are giving me." With only two parties in the office, there is no challenge to really change anything. Instead we are left splitting hairs that really don't matter. Obama's promise of "Yes we can" falls on deaf ears as I feel that "we" didn't do anything. "We" can't really make a difference. And Romney? Nowhere in the right direction either.

Heather said...

Oh Anthony, I agree with what you're saying. I feel your frustration and stuckness and hesitation in casting a vote for someone you may not be 100% (or even %50) in agreement with. Sometimes it really is (like my Dad says) a practice in choosing between the lesser of two evils. In this election, it's a somewhat straight-forward decision for me based on a few key issues. My thoughts on the importance of the political process are by no means discrediting the difficulty that comes with voting. I've been feeling recently that it "almost" matters less who's the president and more who's in congress. There are many other votes that matter too and often these votes feel closer to home.