Politics as usual

November 14, 2010

I had an hour-long call the other day with a friend who’s a political consultant. We talked about the election and what we thought would happen next.

I have to admit that I am very disappointed in our electorate and pessimistic about our country. Sometimes I feel as if I’m watching the decline into stupidity of a once great society.

All our lives we’ve learned that making decisions on a purely emotional basis is a bad idea. Now, all of a sudden, it’s a political movement.
But it doesn’t change the fact that votes cast out of anger are unwisely cast. Anger is a destructive force. Think of domestic violence. Workplace violence. Anger-based, often. And now, politics?There’s a reason anger must be “managed.”

No reasonable person could ignore that some of the positions held by some of the Tea Party candidates who won their races are just plain ridiculous. This has to be the first time in our history that so many people were elected out of anger, ignorance and fear.

I just can’t believe that any thinking person would see someone like Sarah Palin as a person to respect. This is a woman who left the chief elected office in her state because it was “too hard.” She walked away from a post she was elected to by the people of Alaska — people to whom she had an obligation to serve out her term.

She left so she could make money on speaking tours, by “writing a book” and on–wait for it–a REALITY show.

She left because she saw her 15 minutes of fame evaporating and she wanted more.

This seems very clear to me.Who in their right mind would support her? Why don’t others see it? Here’s why:

Our political messages are disseminated by a fragmented media infrastructure. People need never expose themselves to an opinion that differs from the one they already hold because there’s a biased media operation for every belief.

People become entrenched and can remain entrenched for the rest of their lives.

My own politics evolved over decades of exposure to all sides of issues. They’re certainly not how I felt at 21 or even 31.

One day, not all that long ago, I woke up and realized I held certain firm views. I am a pacifist. I am against capital punishment under any circumstance.But that wasn’t always true.

I believe the shaping of my views came from my own heart and were informed by exposure to media outlets that aimed for true objectivity.

In a day when that was journalism’s aim.

I understand that our lifetimes are just a drop in the bucket. That the pendulum of politics swings a wide arc over generations.

But that doesn’t make what’s happening now any more palatable.

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