Politics, or How to Lose Your Mind by Choosing to Vote
September 1st, 2005
Screw politics. That pretty much sums up this whole article, so if you want to save some time, just take that with you and read whatever Saleeby‘s put up this month. If you would rather continue reading, make a pledge to yourself now not to get upset over some silly crap I wrote. If you love watching C-SPAN and every political debate on television, this may not be your cup of tea. Why? Screw politics. That’s why.
Furthermore, you won’t find this article saturated with my views on all the issues being debated today. It’s not because I don’t have a stand on these issues, but because I’m not the sort of person to write about what I think and tell everyone else why they’re wrong. It’s just not me, and I doubt that I will change someone’s mind any more then I can prove string theory in physics.
Instead, I’m simply going to discuss what drives me nuts about anything and everything in politics. I’m not attacking left wings or right wings, and I’m not slamming any particular people in the affairs of state. “Why not?” you may ask, “everyone needs to devote all their time to condemn Bush/Clinton/Adams/Roosevelt! Why else were we put on the planet?” My answer is simple¾ because this is one of those things that really bug me.
Attacking character traits
If you have a problem with a politician, I consider it appropriate to complain about their policies. We see plenty of that, sure, but we also see lots of people bickering over a President because of small, silly mannerisms. Why? It seems to me that many people think that this is reason enough to vote against someone.
Shortly after George W. Bush was elected, all I heard was people complaining about his mispronunciation of words, and how this must be a sign of an inferior intellect. I don’t see it that way, because I butcher the English language more in an hour the Bush will in his whole political career, and no one calls my intelligence into question (of course, everyone probably thinks I’m a bonehead anyway). Truman Capote had a strong lisp and he’s considered a brilliant writer. And how about Stephen Hawking? He can’t talk at all, and I for one think he’s a pretty damn smart guy. If it applies to one person, it should apply to all.
And Bush isn’t the only President who had people making fun of their voices. Carter’s deep-southern accent gave comedians material for ages, and Kennedy’s consistent mispronunciation of the letter R is still legendary.
Furthermore, I knew a good many people who thought Clinton was unsuited to run the country because of his hairstyle (seriously, I wish I was making that up) and Ford’s clumsiness has become infamous via Chevy Chase.
All these mannerisms sum up to is a possible image problem and fodder for Saturday Night Live. A blind paraplegic with two noses could be a strongly beloved President should he solve some serious problems and please the general public, while a model from your J.C Penny’s catalogue could be a huge mistake if he screwed everything up.
Voting for the Lesser of Two Evils
This has bugged me for as long as I can remember. If you hate both political candidates strongly, everyone says that you should vote for the lesser of two evils, not even pausing to think that they just admitted to voting for evil. Since we have been given the right to vote, I always felt it important to vote for good and not evil, even a lesser evil.
This idiom always reminds me of dying in my past life. I was sent to hell (I was an even bigger ass in my past life then I am now) and when I arrived, the devil came up to me with two hot pokers.
“Ha ha ha,” he laughed in glee, “you have a choice! This red hot poker is five hundred degrees! The other one is four hundred ninety degrees! Which do you want shoved down your throat?”
You may assume that the logical choice would be the four hundred ninety degree poker, since ten degrees cooler would have to be the lesser of two evils in this case. However, I felt that this was a case where the lesser of two evils wasn’t less enough to be chosen, so I created and employed option three: I kicked Satan in the groin, ran like hell and I have now been reincarnated into my present form, a smart-aleck, compulsive bullshitter.
You may have already figured out where I’m going with this - third party candidates. “But you’re just throwing your vote away!” someone is bound to say. That may be so, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to vote for anyone that I think sucks. I’ve voted for both Republicans and Democrats, but when I think that both the primary candidates for an office either aren‘t qualified, are too stupid, or are huge jackasses, I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve voted third party plenty of times.
By no means am I telling any readers what to do. I’m simply expressing my reasoning behind not casting my vote for the candidate I hate the least. If you feel the need to vote third party once in a while, just remember that when someone tells you that you’ve wasted your vote, you can always hit them with “at least I didn’t vote for evil, jerk.”
Debating with brick walls
If you have formed an opinion about anything political, chances are you have discussed this idea with someone who disagrees with you. Nothing wrong with that at all. I personally think that a good, intelligent debate is the best way to understand what the opposition thinks, and to see where your reasoning needs tuning up.
Now if you have my luck, you have more debates with brick walls then with someone who wants to engage in a stimulating exchange of ideas. By this, I mean someone who’s primary arguments consist of nothing but “you’re an idiot!” and “I don’t care what you say, you’re wrong!” While I think that standing by your convictions can certainly be admirable, these statements show nothing but a closed mind that wants nothing to do with a discussion, but rather just wants to insult you.
Think of it this way: you come across someone who believes that water flows uphill. You try to give a brief explanation about the laws of gravity, but this person says “you’re a moron” instead of listening. You build a small hill out of dirt and are prepared to pour a bottle of Evian water on it when this person says “don’t even bother, I know I’m right” and walks away. This is your debate with a brick wall.
Granted, any political issue is more complicated then the simple fact that water runs downhill, but the state of mind is the same. You take an issue, come up with the best arguments in favor of it that you can, and try to persuade someone to see things your way. Maybe you’re not even trying to convince them to come to your way of thinking, simply trying to explain how you feel with no animosity and a heart full of good intentions. What do you get for your troubles? An insult, a chair thrown at you, and the sudden realization that some people simply don’t want their ideas opposed.
The worst subject to debate is abortion. If the greatest philosophers, truth-seekers, academics, logicians and theologians all got together in a big room and came up with the end-all reasoning as to why abortion was good or bad, an argument that not even God could find a flaw with, the losing side would still say “screw you, we‘re right“.
This whole “brick wall” thing goes hand in hand with politicians changing their minds. Every time this happens, the people who supported him get into an uproar and start burning effigies. Most people think that the elected official was bought off, and while this does occur from time to time, there is always the chance that someone brought up a kick ass argument (or better yet, solid scientific proof) that the politician’s ideas would lead to the collapse of the economy, the rise of fascism and the Earth plunging into the sun. In the face of this, who wouldn’t change their mind (except the brick wall)?
My good friend Socrates would be pleased that some people used open discussion to come to a (hopefully) better conclusion, but people get bent out of shape over something that could have had disastrous consequences.
These are the debates that I can’t stand. You can have an open mind and still stand by your convictions. But if you want to be a brick wall, good luck with that. Just don’t expect me to discuss anything but movies and the weather with you.
How to survive in the turmoil
If you are fed up with politics, or simply want to avoid the incessant discussions and arguments, you may be wondering how you can deftly avoid getting caught up in the hurricane. Luckily, I have some tried and true methods that I am willing to impart upon anyone who cares to read them.
So let’s say that you’re sitting in a bar or sitting in a college classroom, and the person next to you whips out a political statement that you find utterly disgusting. You could simply feel like not discussing this issue at the time, or maybe you don’t want to get your blood pressure up into the three hundreds by debating this issue. Sure, you could just agree with them, but I prefer to fake not-caring.
“Isn’t the death penalty the greatest/worst thing ever?”
“Eh, I don’t give a damn about that.”
“Shouldn’t we support/deny the rights of such-and-such a group?”
“Not my problem.”
“Don’t you just hate/love the war in Iraq?”
“Hell, I’m still too pissed off about the Teapot Dome Scandal to even begin caring about that.”
That last one is particularly useful because it’s so obviously full of crap that the person you say it to will know that you’re just avoiding the discussion. Plus, nobody knows what the Teapot Dome Scandal was about (except for history majors and people who look it up on wikipedia), so you have a decent chance to confuse your opponent for a few minutes before they realize that you’re screwing with them.
The biggest downside to using this approach is that sooner or later you’re bound to run into someone who insists on telling you why you should care. They will waste their time and yours trying to explain why the issue they have just touched upon is the most important problem in the world today, and while this may be true, you need a way out of this. My favorite: “look buddy, I’m not a politician so lobbying to me won’t do you much good”. Another great line is “those are all valid points, but have you thought of this: I don’t give a damn.” You’re bound to come off like a dick by using these lines, but what’s a few enemies when you’re trying to save your sanity?
But maybe faking indifference isn’t for you. Maybe you’re more the type to piss someone off instead of kindly telling them that you’re not in the mood for a rousing discussion. While I try to avoid upsetting people, my mind is always full of things I could say, should I change my mind. The trick to doing it in a political discussion is to take a stance that anyone and everyone finds either morally repugnant or ridiculously stupid.
“We have to lobby for animal’s rights!”
“Hell yes, then we would stop eating them and start eating each other! Where do I sign?”
“We have to stop the death penalty!”
“Sorry, but there are a bunch of little kids who keep playing on my lawn and I’m trying to get the death penalty extended to them.”
“We have to stop wars for oil!”
“With today’s gas prices? We need all the stolen oil we can get!”
“We have to stop global warming!”
“Are you nuts? I’m tired of these cold-ass winters. Have you seen my December heating bill?”
I really like that last one because you rarely, if ever, hear someone take this stance on global warming. The common opinions are either that global warming must be stopped, or that global warming is a myth. Why not favor it for a change?
Finally, you can always just come clean and tell someone that you’re not in the mood for such a debate at present.
“Won’t you help me abolish gun control?”
“Look, any other day I would be glad to discuss the pros and cons of such, but right now I’m just not up for it. My bank account’s in the red, my wife won’t do anal and my son’s in the loony bin for thinking that Pac-Man’s trying to kill him.”
So there you have it. A brief tirade on why I try to avoid anything and everything political. But I can’t stop here without mentioning jobs in the field. Every year we get people coming and going from city, state and federal offices, and while part of me admires the fact that they are laying their sanity on the line for what they feel is right, a larger part of me asks “why the hell would you want that job?”
Every time there is an election, my television viewing drops because I get tired of the commercials, and I quit answering my phone because I’m tired of politician’s answering machines calling me. Even though I try to avoid absorbing the campaigning and mud-raking as much as I can, enough seeps into my head to make me realize that I couldn’t be a politician without screaming profanities and gibberish in all of my speeches. I’m thankful everyday that you have to actually seek office, because if I was walking down the street and suddenly got elected Senator, I would instantly lose my mind just thinking of all the crap I would now have to deal with. Hopefully I could manage to keep enough sense to give the shortest inauguration speech ever: “the hell with this, I quit.”
In conclusion, screw politics. If you feel the need to change the world by entering the political arena, go for it. If you like to spend your free time gunning for a cause, I wish you luck. Me, I’ll look up the pros and cons to the issue on the internet, vote and that’s it. And if you see my name on a ballot, I didn’t put it there so don’t vote for me. Unless you’re looking forward to hearing my brief inauguration address.
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