Politics and the Work Ahead

Everything political makes me angry. This is a thoroughly recent affliction. It happens whether the democrats or republicans have the edge in the halls of power. There’s no leadership, no compromise, no effective governance, no conversation, no understanding that the only viable long term outcomes must be win-win. There is none of the work that we the people need done. Just entitled, wealthy and disconnected power-seekers pandering to their audience. Loyalty to party is more important than what is actually good for the country. It’s all so fucking disappointing. The system is broken. Which is what happens to all systems when they are not properly maintained.

I have decreased my news consumption. It only serves to enrage, annoy, sadden and generally decrease my quality of life. News in the internet age is terrible, sensational, and driven by emotional impact (especially fear). It has to be, that’s what sells. That’s what gets clicks and attention when there are billions of bits of content vying for your limited time. Given this, it’s part of the problem. Not because it’s ‘fake’ but because it’s constant and it has warped to the wants, needs and fears of the audiences it depends on. There is still good journalism being done, but when the intensity is turned up to 11 the entire edifice becomes intolerable.

In spite of my best efforts, sometimes news gets through my intentional disinterest. Or sometimes I let it through because it is arguably important. So it was with the latest dumpster fire our government was able to throw together. I am neither a democrat nor a republican. I can see merits in both sides. I can also see deep flaws with how the party ideologies are playing out. Even so, the Supreme Court has managed to maintain a positive image as a branch of government. People may despise congress, they might hate the president, but they respect the court. Because the court is supposed to be impartial, unbiased, and apolitical. Now the short-sighted morons that are supposed to be our representatives have gone and screwed that up as well.

I don’t know if our newest justice committed sexual assault. I don’t know if he knows that he did or not. I know that people are innocent until proven guilty. I also know that allegations from multiple sources should be investigated thoroughly before you promise to ram through a vote. And I know that an angry, unbalanced, partisan tirade should disqualify you from being a judge on the highest court in the land. Now it’s tainted more by our very troubling politics. Maybe circumstances will improve once the lens of constant media coverage moves on, but I have my doubts. Because everything is political these days.

We have work to do. Work on ourselves and work with each other. Work to listen. Work to see the merits in the viewpoints of others without dismissing them out of hand or shouting them down. Work to see where our own viewpoints are flawed and incomplete. Work to minimize the voices at the extremes that seek to dominate the conversation and the attention. Work to see where we are not holding our tribe to the same standards we rant about the other not meeting. Work to be unwilling to tolerate the hypocrisy that fuels our partisanship. Ask yourself, would it be okay for your opposition to do this if they had the advantage? Especially for the important decisions. Because everything a party rants and rages about, their side is also guilty of. It’s not okay just because it’s your side.

Most Americans do not want the nonsense we have seen. We want a functional polity that takes ownership of our problems, deliberates based on the best available information, and works to address them. We don’t expect it to be perfect or all that pretty, but it should at least not drive wedges through our society.

We need to get money out of politics. We need to get the career politicians out of politics. Those that care more about ‘winning’ than representing the people that put them in office. Term limits, campaign finance reform, and a critical look at gerrymandering are a place to start. Congress is incapable of limiting itself in that fashion. That’s part of the work we need to do. The alternative is that we’ll get more of the same. More partisan bickering. More outrage at the atrocities the other side commits with the thinnest of majorities. And we’ll continue to turn the ratchet on our deep divisions until the cracks grow wider and spread further. Nothing good lies down that road.