Thursday, October 15, 2015

Hunter S. Thompson Was Right

"The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now."

He also said something about how the country was going to become far more conservative then we would ever realize, but I can't find that one.

I say this because after reading this review of the first Democratic Debate, I am in awe of what has become so prophetic. I don't think a dissolution is in order, but I am getting a real V for Vendetta vibe. Why? Well, to be honest, we let this happen.

We allowed one political party to slowly adopt policies that represent our deepest, darkest selves. Our fear, our hate, our confusion. Messages of exclusion. A call for punishing those just for being different. A disdain for violence, but not the tools that engineer it. We allowed the voices to cloak these beliefs in the garb of patriotism and morality, while the mannequins that are suppose to exhibit them indulge in adultery, bribery and treason. In short, we have a party of self-righteous sociopaths.

But we did not stop there. Because the human mind needs a choice, and there's no better base decision than "This or That," we allowed the other party to become a mush-mash of "We ain't Them." It's like all of the socially liberal Republicans, disenfranchised libertarians, and old-school Teddy Roosevelt conservatives saw the Democratic party and went, "Might as well make camp here for the night," except that "night" started around the late 70's and has ended. And instead of us, the American People, saying, "WTF? You can't just leave one party, join another and change like, only 2% of your political views then try to act like there's a major difference!" we were all, "Wait; we converted them!" Yeah, right. And while we tried to convince ourselves that the enemy of my enemy was our friend, they slowly turned the party into a mirror version of the one they left, only with better branding and a splash of diversity. Maybe that's why a lot of people believed that Obama was some far-left biracial hippie and not a slightly left-leaning pragmatist; compared to McCain and Romney the guy looked like FDR. In other words, we have another party full of irony-deficient enablers.

Let's be clear here: currently the three highest-polling Republicans have never been elected to anything or ever been in a political position where they could not get 100% of what they wanted. Currently at least two of the three most popular Democrats would have been Republicans 40 years ago, and the third isn't really saying anything more radical then what John Stewart had been saying on the Daily Show for the last 10 years. Sure, someone from the second tier may pop up, but the catch is that they are from the second tier, which implies that they aren't any better, they just outlasted the others.

We have been playing the lesser of two evils game for quite some time, but the unofficial promise was that this game would be sporadic, not periodical. And worse, we have gotten to the point where even if elected, these guys cannot govern. And by "cannot govern," I mean they are either constantly stymied or they seriously do not have the human skills and emotional intelligence necessary navigate the rigors that is American politics.

(Seriously, how many times have we witnessed both sides of the American political system do purity tests? How many "shutdowns" of the government have we had? Arguments about raising the Debt Ceiling or Minimum Wage or fixing a damn bridge?)

And really, we should be angry with these guys. All of them. To many of them are playing games with our lives for power and profit. I've told people many times the biggest problem with political office is that those in it treat it as a career when it was never intended to be that way. Being a doctor, lawyer, scientist, CEO or teacher is a career. No little kid says they want to work in Congress when they group up, and most of the one who say they want to be President is because the President is on TV just like characters from their favorite show.

But if we are being honest, "just voting" is the electoral equivalent of "liking" something on Facebook. If you have to hold you nose in the ballot box/curtain/whatever, your participation in the political started too late. Unless the man or woman you've always supported is running right now, you should really think about the following:

  • Get involved in local politics. Everyone started somewhere, even these guys. And you don't have to run yourself; if you have a neighbor or friend or relative or ex you're still cool with, ask them to try it out. If that fails, make sure the people there are people you wouldn't mine voter for to make major decisions about your entire state, because believe me, some of them will turn career. 
  • Be careful who you give money to. Donating is like a step up from voting, but in the world of politics, you don't always know if you're financing one specific campaign or an entire group/party. 
  • Get information from both sides. It doesn't pay to just go to all-liberal or all-conservative media outlets. Regardless of the way you lean, you need to how the "other side" talks and walks. My criticism aside, there are still decent-minded folk in both parties; they just aren't the high profile types. 
  • Check and double-check your sources. The words on this blog is just one person's opinion, and I'll never claim it to be gospel. It's just how I see it. Be careful of those who claim otherwise: they what they say is 100% truth. Don't be the political Cliff Clavin of your circle. 
  • Don't accept the status quo. Comedian Christopher Titus once mused that we are very nonchalant about getting out of bad relationships, but will fight like hell over a bad coffee order (he's not entirely wrong). We are the same way with politics; we allow candidates to run amok in a way we'd never accept if we knew or worked with them personally. Don't be afraid to ruffle feathers. But please, please, do so in context: it may conflict with your views,Is it impacting our economy or national security? Is it excluding one group in favor of another? Does it go against the Constitution? Look at the big picture!

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