Every two or three years, 80% of the news coverage in this country seems to take on a political bent – Candidate So and So did this today, weather in State X will impact turnout, Sports Hero Y endorsed Candidate Whatshername, etc. I partially understand why so much of our news and conversation centers around elections, but at the same time it is kind of ridiculous for everything to be pushed aside so we can see video footage of candidates eating hot dogs in a town you’ve never heard of.
But, anyways, one of my friends asked me the other night what issues are the most important to me. It’s a question that I’ve been asked a number of times, and I’ve never really been able to come up with a good answer. I haven’t really found “key issues” that make me want to vote for a certain candidate over another. Partially, this is probably due to the stage of life that I’m in, but I also feel like all of the candidates are only talking about minor changes that will not really change the status quo, rather than really setting themselves up to make the kinds of changes that I think are important. Part of me feels cynical, but I don’t really feel like any of the candidates are looking towards the big picture future.
One of my frustrations is that every politician on either side is speaking the language of American consumerism. This is not a problem of partisan division or corruption in Washington, but is instead based on the widespread American egoism in our society. Everyone is worried about what the candidates will do to boost the economy so they don’t lose the crap they haven’t realized they don’t need. No one seems interested in helping Americans to realize that they are, for the most part, incredibly wealthy and that the economy should only be a concern because of what a recession will do to those who have been trampled on within and outside of our society by the middle and upper classes. Everyone is worried about what the next president will do to boost “our image” abroad, but no one seems willing to push Americans beyond their glamorized and mythic obsession with our country’s “image” and realize that a foreign policy based on protecting our “image” is furthering the unhealthy and misguided view that we are better than everyone else. Everyone is worried about how the candidates will address illegal immigration, but no one seems to be pushing for a recognition that “illegal aliens” are just as human as we are, and that a dotted line on a map is a ridiculous basis for determing someone’s right to a healthy and worthwhile life.
I guess I just get frustrated because I don’t see any candidate who is really positioning themself to challenge Americans to be better human beings. To look beyond our borders and see the human faces in Tijuana or Baghdad, in order that we might better know how to interact and partner with the world, rather than taking advantage of the world. To acknowledge and hold ourselves accountable for the mistakes and tragedies that we have been involved in and/or responsible for, so that we can better address tragedies domestically and internationally with integrity. To re-address some of our basic assumptions about ourselves and our country, to allow us to move forward without false pretenses about ourselves.
That probably all comes across as some kind of utopian and idealistic Kum Ba Yah campfire vision. Maybe this is the right vision but the wrong target – maybe this is the message that should come from churches, and has little to do with politics. Or maybe there’s a candidate who’s out there and preaching this stuff at every campaign stop and I’m just missing it (let me know if you think that’s true, I’d be interested in checking that person out). I’m just not feeling motivated towards a political landscape where the most radical message of change is simply to be “bipartisan.” It just doesn’t do it for me.
I’d love to hear anyone’s thoughts on this…this was kind of a rant, so I probably went a little too far in some areas and didn’t clarify my thoughts in others. So, push back and let me know what you think, or why you think a certain candidate should be appealing to me.