Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Few Things I’d Love to Hear Politicians Say

I’ve pretty much given up on voting. I don’t like the process. I don’t like the choices placed in front of me. I don't like lawyers, ergo I don't like most politicians, who are lawyers. I don’t like the canned us/them mentality foisted on people with this fake Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative garbage. When I run into people who willfully lean hard in either direction, I cringe. I know the next 5-10 minutes of my life will be a monologue of idiocy, generally from people who really aren’t that idiotic, but have chosen to be on this one issue. Because they care, man. Because they’re connected to the world. Because …

Pfffttttt. The last few weeks have provided many awkward social moments with people going off on their extreme political points of view, truly cringe-worthy stuff. I’d rather not attempt to hash out whatever goes through their minds. And I’d rather not damn them with some superior attitude, because I’m surely not above anyone. If anything, I’m choosing to disregard levels and degrees here, and just toss the whole shitpot into the sewer. If you vote, I tip my cap. I don’t vote because I can’t stand our political system and recognize the real power now lies with corporations and money, that politics are just a fancy sort of window dressing for people to pick over regarding more personal issues, like gay marriage and abortion. Have at it! I realized a long time ago, probably as a kid in the 70s, that my life went on much the same no matter who was in office. Bad shit comes your way no matter who’s president. Good things happen to you, too. If you’re going to place your mood and overall sense of personal happiness in the context of whoever holds political power, I’m more than happy to call you a bullshit artist of the highest degree.

What would get me politically motivated? I didn’t write “again” at the end of the previous sentence, because I don’t believe I’ve ever been politically motivated, despite some stern attempts at liberalism in college and shortly thereafter. Lord knows, I tried, but one too many poetry readings in stalwart “socialist” bookstores and coffee shops where I could grasp that about 70% of the people in the room were batshit crazy and as offensive as any Republican I’ve ever met, I just had to let it go. I could picture the faces of guys I grew up with in rural America, living lives that were the embodiment of socialism and the “every man” ethic, and they’d be doing this: making googley eyes and mouthing, “Let’s get the fuck out of here!”

I’m going to present a list of a few things I’d love to hear politicians say, and by doing so, hope to illustrate what I see wrong with politics, and why I’m so put off with this nonsense. Obviously, there have been times in America when political activism was essential – Revolutionary War, Civil War, etc. But I’d have to think, even if I was a Rebel soldier, I’d be sitting around a campfire with my friends in the woods outside of Gettysburg at night and thinking, later for this shit, I can’t wait to get back home to my tenant farm, assuming I don’t get a cannonball straight through my head. This is how I am. If our political system were to crumble because of people like me, I’d consider that a pretty good thing. Realistically, of course, this won’t happen for a long time, if ever, and I’m indulging the luxury of a lot of people giving a shit about something I don’t give a single shit about. Suffice to say, storming the Bastille would be one of those historical events I’d love to visit in a time machine. But without further adieu:

I don’t believe in god. Any politician who stated this would have my vote. Profess atheism. State directly that politics and religion should remain as separate as possible. Get religion out of it. Have it in your life if you need it, and I surely recognize that millions of people need it, but get it out of politics. I have nothing against religion – in fact, I’ve seen more than a few people I respect lead good lives with total faith in their given religion. But I also don’t see them at work forcing their religious beliefs into their workplace decisions – they understand religion is the core fiber of their being, simply something they are, and it carries them through life. I’m fine with that – I just don’t believe it should have anything to do directly with what people do, be it politics or whatever. Politics, by nature is a dirty business. Religion … well, it shouldn’t be, but go figure, sometimes people get some funny ideas in their head when they try to figure out what god wants, which is usually pig latin for what they want. It’s a bad mix, if you ask me.

I don’t want to get married/I like having sex with numerous partners. Bill Clinton was a pussy man. So was JFK. I suspect a lot of politicians are. Like rock and roll stars, some politicians are in it for the pussy. On a very base level, I can respect that. On a deeper level, why get married to one person if that’s the case? You love to get laid, with numerous partners. This is great! I tip my cap to you for this pursuit of horniness. But we have this insane, misleading political image that a politician must be happily married, preferably with children. If Clinton had just divorced Hilary after getting elected and stated, “I love my wife, but I love having sex with numerous partners more, and I feel like I’m in a cage. I need to get a divorce and pursue this more. Just the way I am, and I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone.” Wouldn’t life be easier with that sort of unbridled honesty? Pussy men should not get married, ever, or wait until their gun barrels cool down a bit by their mid-50s or so, like Warren Beatty.

I don’t have or want children. Much like the “happy marriage” trope – having kids seems to be a hallmark of politicians. You’re deeply suspect if you don’t have them. What’s wrong with you … you don’t like kids? I’d love to hear a politician say, “I can’t stand kids!” It’s OK! I think you get some women in politics who get so wrapped up in their jobs that they probably “forget” to have kids and are shit out of luck when they start having weeping fits at 46. But, hell, if having one takes you out of the game for at least 3-4 months, what are you supposed to do? A guy can have a kid and not skip a beat with his job. Politicians tend to use their kids as props to a nonsensical “I’m really a family guy” image that’s about as far from the truth as you can get for someone who works 14 hours a day, every day. If you’re a politician, your family is not your first priority, and that’s cool, just admit it. Plenty of people in the business suffer the same fallacy.

I don’t like working-class people. It seems like every major election comes down to this pained focus on red state/blue state nonsense, i.e., white working-class voters. Who, as we’ve seen, can be influenced to lean either way, usually depending on the economy. Your average white liberal will sit around all day bemoaning white trash, trailer-park trash, crackers, etc. … yet never once make similar statements regarding black and hispanic working-class people, because they’ve been carefully trained to never appear in any way racist, and making those kind of statements would surely brand them as such. You better believe working-class white people are acutely aware of this, no matter how dumb so many people assume they are. I propose just being honest: if you don’t like working-class people, regardless of color, just say it. Hell, I have severe problems with white upper-middle-class people and perceive their lives to be just as junky and empty as anything you’ll find in Appalachia. Save there’s a lot of emptiness you can hide with money that’s glaringly clear in a shotgun shack. But politicians have this built-in BS factor to fawn over working-class people in speeches, when reality is these people are cannon fodder, at best, or butts of jokes for supposedly sophisticated people most of the time otherwise. If a politician said, “I hate working-class people, but I need your vote, so tell me what I can do for you, and if it’s within reason, I’ll make it happen” – he’d surely have my vote.

I’m a gay/black Republican. A black co-worker, the day before this last election, was carrying on over her uncle, who was a black Republican. The general consensus seemed to be that he was completely nuts, although no one could quite say why, save a lot of people seem to believe the Democrats are wondrously open, giving, non-racist people … which I think is well-meaning bullshit more than anything else. I think of a black Republican, or a gay Republican, and think one thing: progress. For one thing, it’s a gutsy move to break out of tradition like that; for another, if you strip the parties down to their core essentials, the Republican belief in self determination should be just as appealing a message to black people as any core belief the Democrats could put forth. Of course, the Republican party has become so fouled with right-wing religious bullshit and wealth that this is sometimes hard for people to see (of course, the Democrats are just as fouled with wealth). It’s sort of alarming that so many black people are focused in on the concept that they can only be Democrats when the Democrats offer nothing more to them than Republicans do. You want to see real progress, real change, that’s going to come with black folks branching out in the Republican party and putting their own stamp on it in terms of that previously mentioned self determination. (On a more base, realistic level, this will probably also symbolize them having more money/status in society, which will be a good thing.) I can see gay people having severe problems with Republicans based purely on the stifling religious bullshit, but again, strip it down to core beliefs, and there’s something there for them if they can handle the kooks. Which, admittedly, is a pretty tall order. How religion got to be such an overt force with the Republican party, I don't know -- this wasn't always the case, and it tends to be an all-or-nothing proposition with a lot of voters, which will be putting less asses in congressional seats as time goes on.

The two-party system is reductive and unrealistic for sane people, but I can’t function as a politician without their financial backing. I can’t stand what this country has become politically. And I don’t think we’re “divided.” I think people who over-indulge in politics are clearly divided, but the greater reality here is that the assholes in America are divided, as they always were and always will be. The sane people just go on living, like the fucking Joad family in their jalopy and bunkhouses. Whether they’re poor or rich, white or black, whatever they are. I always enjoy meeting people who either are or appear to be apolitical because, surprise, you can actually talk to them like human beings and get the overwhelming sense that they’re not trying to get over on you or “feel out” where you stand on certain issues. I’m not going to hold your political convictions against you unless you create an aura around yourself that’s so stifling that the only sane option is to reject you. And this seems to be a pretty common theme with a lot of “committed” people these days. Their goal is to divide, and then discard.

I can see that the only chance an effective third party, much less a fourth of fifth, has in America is to have billionaires like Ross Perot float the money out there and run their agenda up the flagpole. In effect, they’re already dirty because the sole reason for their existence on a mass level is a staggeringly huge amount of money. There’s not much hope on a national level for a multi-party political spectrum, candidates who cross so many lines politically that you end up voting for them simply because you respect their honesty, whether or not you’re always on the same page. As it is, I feel like our political system has come down to whether you want to shop at Walmart or K Mart. And both places are selling the same shit, mostly Made in China, for varying prices that will cause you to shop at one place or the other for given bargains that strike your fancy. That’s pretty much how politics in America feel to me now. And I'm a "used on Amazon" sort of guy these days.

I’m not quite grasping what cataclysmic political changes people perceive to be on the horizon, unless they’re anticipating a full-blown Depression and the social unrest that will result. Even if Obama fails miserably, and I suspect he won’t, he’ll still be perceived as a good president. He’d have to screw the pooch royally, in ways that make Bush like Thomas Jefferson, to have history portray him in a negative light. Again, I think he’ll do fine, given the horrible economic shitstorm he’s walking into. But I’m not kidding myself about real change. Save money. Live better. Keep waiting on that blue-light special.


Andy S. said...

Politicians who say the kind of things you suggest are not politicians, they're flying pigs.

But I know one thing: if Joe Paterno had been running for president, you would have come out and voted.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow cynic, I appreciate your points and agree with most. In college my circle of friends included both politically left and right with varying levels of activism. We could debate, talk, have fun, get drunk, and like each other just as much as people without applying racial or political labels. You don’t have to agree with someone in order to respect their opinion and therefore treat them with respect. I believe that school of thought is near extinction in this country and idiots of all beliefs are to blame.

I have been lucky enough to travel extensively and one thing that always amazes me is how Americans (in general) project their belief system onto all other cultures. Both sides do this with equal stupidity. I’ve been to China repeatedly, the Chinese do not value human life the same way we in the west do, the value is far, far lower. We value dogs more than they value humans, maybe its cultural; maybe it’s a bi-product of over population. I used China as an example; however, the Arab world is much the same. Only they value Muslim men highest, Muslim women much less and disregard the rest of the world. Now some would make the same claim about Christians; however, modern Christians don’t actively pursue murder in large numbers and they do give more to charity than any other single group in the world, the numbers back that up. All I want is for the prevailing party in political power to keep Americans from getting killed. The world is way too big for America to save every country by ourselves, so let’s try to help where we can but let’s focus on keeping us alive first. Should your country try to kill Americans or your country's citizens shout “Death to America” then I’m all for killing you in record numbers in the name of our security.

I’m an atheist although I prefer agnostic, because I’m not anti-god, I just happen not to believe in him/her/it. I firmly belong in the self-determination camp. I’m sick of people who blame their lives on some “bogeyman”. Fill in the blank “My life sucks because _______ have/has all the power, man!” A: Big Corporations B: Either political party C: the “Rich” D: The “Man” E: fill in your own “bogeymen” (assholes blame their parents, teachers, etc.)

Look Sparky, if your life sucks there’s a 97% chance it’s due to your own stupid decisions.

The other 3% are people who find themselves in a horrible situation through no fault of their own i.e.: Kids with Cancer.

Maybe this rant makes me an asshole too, I prefer libertarian over asshole if I have to choose a moniker. I prefer a small government that offers national security and stays the hell out my life. Obviously, neither current party offers that option.

On a side note Bill, I’ve taken notice that although your writing still inspires thought, it no longer contains much by way of humor. This isn’t as much a criticism as is it an observation. We’re older, that goes without saying, but as fucked up as things get there is still a need for humor and you used to be damn good at providing it.

You can delete this or post it, your blog, just an old reader’s opinion.

William S. Repsher said...

Great response, anonymous -- I'd never delete or not post something someone took the trouble to write here unless it was gobbledegook or very nasty personal attack (i.e., a lot of what passes for anonymous commentary on the web!). Yeah, I don't do humor all the time anymore -- I get off a good one every now and then, but I guess I just hit certain points in life as a writer where I felt like branching out a little and trying other things. You better believe I love getting a good humor piece off on occasion -- hang around, it will happen.

Andy, thanks for the veiled Pink Floyd reference. I was just listening to Animals the other night, albeit not on eight track, man. I know what I put forth is pie in the sky, but wouldn't it be nice if politicians didn't have to play these dumb head games with people?

Andy S. said...

"but wouldn't it be nice if politicians didn't have to play these dumb head games with people?"

You said that exactly the right way - they "have to" do it. As much as we like to blame politicians for the state of politics and say that the people are nothing but sheep (see what I did there?), the fact is that nobody really wants to hear the truth. If people wanted to hear it, politicians would be the first ones telling it.