Thursday, August 23

If I say something, hear what I say...

"cause my words have meaning, and that's the truth." -H2O, My Friend

I took a political science class in college, and I know my professor was amazing because I didn't know where he fell on the political spectrum until he told us at the end.  He was a master of teaching us the science part.  It seems our politicians and media have forgotten this.

The leaders of a nation are going to face problems that require solutions with measurable results.  They are also going to face issues that don't have a definitive right/wrong, bad/good dichotomy.  This is why politics is a world of both facts and emotions.  Two dominating political viewpoints (unfortunately) have arisen and dominated our government, expressed through the democratic and republican platforms.  Please note those are intentionally not capitalized for a reason.

I loved that political science class because I bought into the pipe dream that the political world consisted of different problem solving method, and that amazing national breakthrough could be accomplished by differing opinions.  This seemed like a reasonable belief at the time because the idea that progress can exist BECAUSE of our differences is visible in many other areas of life, like business, and relationships.  I don't know many couples that have never had a fight, and most of them will tell you that they've come out better for it.  Progress is often born out of challenge.

But I woke up from that pipe dream and realized that politics is a nightmare; an arena of yelling millionaires who are more concerned about pushing their opinion on everyone else and getting their agenda across than actually solving a problem.  A bunch of people with a bunch of money, who in the words of Billy Joel have "their fist in the air, and their head in the sand."  When your ears are full of sand, it's really easy not to listen to anyone else.  The volume of political voices has become greater than their message.  Both sides are guilty of this.  If you want to terrify yourself, watch a Sean Hannity rant or crazy Howard Dean's speech.  On mute.

And how many of our politicians and (political enthusiasts) teach their sons and daughters to share and compromise, only to be outsmarted by the majority of first graders in this regard?  I understand feeling passionate heat behind an issue, and I'm not saying that people should have to or are even capable of understanding their counter's viewpoint in it's entirety; they feel that way for a reason.  But can't we connect to the idea that if we're so passionately heated about our own viewpoints, that there's just the slightest chance that they're as passionate about their own?  We form our opinions based off of our experiences and beliefs; through the filters that we view the world and the colors we've been painted with.

I also understand the desire to dismiss someone's argument because that's how someone "feels," when you build your arguments on facts.  I'm a fact builder.  Everyone guy I've dated has ended an argument with "that's just how I feel."  And there isn't shit I could do about it.  Politics is personal for some people, and not for others.  Both approaches are extremely valuable.  Furthermore, their are logical arguments behind both platforms.  That's why they've risen as the most dominant voices in the country.

Here's a great example from Aaron Sorkin on what an argument of facts vs. emotions can look like.  My friend showed me this a couple of weeks ago, and I'm obsessed with it.

I didn't include this clip because I care about Aaron Sorkin's thoughts on gay marriage.  I included it because I haven't seen an actual political discussion IN THE REAL WORLD this well crafted in my life time.  In fact, I don't know if I've truly seen a political DISCUSSION in my life time.  Just spin rooms full of hot air attacks giving guests two minutes to defend themselves.

One of my favorite parts of this clip is that towards the end, Jeff Daniel's character, Will McAvoy, even concedes that he learned a lesson while maintaining his argument.  Can you imagine a politician conceding that he learned something from an opposing viewpoint, or was even wrong, outside the throws of a political scandal?

I would hope that the people actually trying to help our country could be even more civil than this, but I'm too smart to hope for the unrealistic.

I'm not trying to stir up a political firestorm with this blog, I'm just trying to deflate the political milieu injected into our minds and/by the media.

lI'm about as moderate as you get.  I'm fiscally conservative because I think I should get to choose what I want to do with the money I spend, but if I had the money, I'd donate it to some liberal programs.  I'm straight edge, but I really don't give a shit if anyone else smokes weed.  I balance how I feel and what I think, and choose my political views based on that.  I don't try and change anybody's mind when I share my views, and I don't think anyone is stupid for thinking differently than I do.*

During Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity, he noted the traffic that people were enduring on the way to this rally.  He said that even with the infuriating state of anger induced by traffic, each driver was still getting to their desired destination, because they were all letting each other go one car at a time.  Politics is not a world of problem solving.  It is a world of striving to filibuster the opposing. 

I stay informed. I vote.  But politics sickens me.  We need a dialogue, but we get opinionated monologues that are given in a vacuum without the slightest opening of the speaker's mind.  That maybe, JUST maybe, they could contribute something.  Maybe they didn't have enough inspirational "Your mind is like a parachute" posters when they were younger.

Please shut up and vote.

*Except for morons who say that a woman's body shuts down when she is raped. 

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