Sometimes I feel like intelligence can too easily be ignored based solely on lack of strength. I’m an intelligent person. I know this. I have street smarts. I’m wise. I’m aware. But I’m not always informed. As a result, I’m not often strong about defending my convictions. As such, I don’t often impose my thoughts about politics and such on my friends during the occasional political discussions they have. Of course, it happens that a number of my friends are very fervent in their political beliefs, and to engage them in discussion about these beliefs is to place oneself under the scrutiny of their judgement of one’s personal knowledge of the political arena. My political awareness, both locally and nationally does not run deep. I’m under no delusions about this fact. The question is: how much of this lack of current event knowledge is self-imposed?
(Well obviously it’s all self-imposed. No one is blocking information from reaching me. What I mean is, how much am I subconsciously preventing myself from keeping myself in the know?)
I’ve seen the sort of blow-out arguments that occur as a result of basic disagreements. I remember my parents arguing over dinner about things. I’ve watched my father and uncles disagree vehemently with my grandfather on issues regarding race and religion; both trying to argue the points that they’ve known their whole lives. Neither party could necessarily be considered fundamentally wrong, as far as the times in which they each respectively came of age is concerned, but every party is probably indisputably wrong in assuming that they were right.
The problem was that after witnessing these “discussions,” I never felt like anything was solved. It was nothing more than a bunch of screaming, yelling, anxiety, and unease. It was just a bunch of drunken or caffeinated (or both) people trying to make other people believe that they were right about stuff. And maybe they were. But as a kid watching this crap, how the hell was I supposed to know who was right?
I remember one night in particular. There was a strong argument going on at the dinner table at my Aunt Gloria and Uncle John’s house. My grandfather was still alive and my twin cousins were not yet born, which means this took place no less than 22 years ago. The adults were around the dining room table arguing about something while I was in the living room. Unbeknownst to my family (probably to this day) I discovered a Playboy magazine beneath a bunch of other periodicals in a small basket near a chair in their family room. Now as a current subscriber to Playboy myself, and as my uncle was actually probably younger at the time than I am now, it’s important to state that I consider Playboy to be more like a GQ, or a Men’s Health, or some other such magazine, as opposed to an adult girly-mag. But as an 8-12 year old boy, this was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. If I’m not mistaken, this was the issue featuring Joan Collins. I was mesmerized. All I remember is flipping through the pages thinking about what a wonderful thing I was seeing (a naked woman — and a famously well-known one, at that) while all the stupid adults kept arguing about crap that I didn’t understand. I think that moment was defining for me in that I don’t think I ever wanted to understand it.
What’s the point in arguing about things with people whose minds will never change anyway when we could be looking at naked ladies!?
But I guess that’s what makes this world what it is.
I’ve learned over my years that we’re all fucked up in some way. For some of us, the fucked-up-edness (as it were) is a bit more disguised, where as for others it’s relatively blatant. We all learn to deal with our own issues in certain ways. And we all continue on with our lives hoping to prove to the rest of the world that we’re not actually fucked up. We do this by demonstrating our resolve in discussions over politics, religion, sports, the best way to mow a lawn, and so on. The problem is that everyone wants to be right, and seldom is anyone wrong.
Politics is nothing more than a sport. Everyone wants to back a winner. You’re a Republican or a Democrat. You’re a National League fan or an American League fan. You either like NASCAR or you make fun of it. But the truth is that we all want the same thing. That part is easy. The tricky part is that none of us knows what it is we want. Yeah, we want tax breaks. Sure, we want someone who will defend us from terrorists. Of course, we want a leader. Certainly, we want a person who will help us prosper. But how the hell can any of us tell whether one person will be so much better than another. Perhaps the exception is our current president. (“Thank you, Your Holiness. Awesome speech.”) Although, as I think about it, a majority of the jobs I’ve had in my lifetime have come through some sort of nepotism, so how can I criticize others for reaching ranks through similar means. Of course, my jobs haven’t put me in direct command of the most powerful military force on Earth, but still, you see my point.
But I didn’t start writing today to share my thoughts on politics. I love Barak Obama, but I can’t necessarily express to you why I do. Maybe it’s simply because I trust the beliefs of those closest to me, and they, in turn, believe in him. Perhaps this is naive. But frankly, I’m not a whole lot different than I was when I was fifteen. The catch is, I’m much more powerful now than I was then — now I can vote.
Laugh if you want. I’m one vote. Big deal. The thing is, we’re all idiots. We’re all worried about shit we can’t control. We all get worked up over things that we’ll never see resolved and as a result, we make things worse. We’re definitely moving in the right direction. We’re actually lucky enough to have witnessed a Democratic nomination race between a woman and a black man. Can any single person reading this who was alive and aware 20 years ago ever believe that this could be possible? Geraldine Ferrarro was Walter Mondale’s choice for vice-president during his presidential campaign in 1984. It’s doubtful that her selection for this post cost him the election (he was defeated in a landslide by incumbent president Ronald Reagan), but it took 24 years for a female to once again become a significant player in a presidential race.
The problem is that the most remarkable thing about the Democratic race wasn’t that anyone was celebrating what we’ve experienced, but rather that the two unlikely, yet allied party members who were running against each other may have done nothing but ultimately hurt one another. What the hell is up with that? It’ll be interesting to see if Hillary Clinton’s attacks on Obama hurt his chances in the overall race for president. It’ll be even more interesting to see if he actually chooses her as his potential vice-president.
I’m tired. That’s what I am. I’m tired of trying to fake caring about this election, even though I do feel strongly about it. The fact is, my life isn’t going to be a whole hell of a lot different whether a Republican or a Democrat wins. I don’t own property. As of right now, I don’t even have a freakin’ income to have to worry about being taxed. Come January 21, 2009, regardless of which party had the honor of watching their candidate inaugurated into office the day previous, I won’t go to my mailbox to find an envelope full of health insurance waiting for me. I’m struggling financially because of the choices I’m making. Not because of the choices a popular vote and/or Electoral College made (or didn’t make). But god forbid I should appear uninformed.
It doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care. More than I’ll probably ever actually let on. It’s just simply not more important to me than it is to be able to create a wonderfully written sentence; or to come up with a beautiful musical melody.
Here’s an interesting question: if you had your choice, would you rather trade places with John F. Kennedy or John Lennon? Or how about Ronald Reagan or Roald Dahl? Perhaps the choice between George Washington or George Gershwin?
I’ll almost always choose art, over politics. But that’s not to say that I’ll choose frivolity over freedom. Whatever the fuck that means.