Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Politics of "Someone Else"

I was taken aback by a conversation I had yesterday with someone close to me who mentioned that he thought Sarah Palin was exactly what this country needed.

It really opened my eyes about something that I should have already known, but never really took the time to understand. I thought it was obvious that she was so incredibly unversed and unsophisticated enough about the important issues in this election - namely the economy (and alll that entails) and foreign policy (and subsequently homeland security, which makes me cringe to use that terminology.) To her credit, I do think she is a champion of conservative social issues and therefore, if you subscribe to them, she could be your gal.

But here it was before me: "I think Sarah Pain is exactly what this country needs." She's unconnected to the system, she's a small-town person, she's as corny as Kansas in August, she's as normal as blueberry pie.

This person was concerned with politicians. Said he doesn't trust them, never did. They make everything complicated and they're more concerned with getting elected than the well-being of the country.

Now, I must remind him and everyone else that, new to the game as she is, Sarah Palin's job depends on whether or not she is holding public office. It is in her greatest personal interest that she get elected.

But to move on from that, the point he brought up was more than valid. Politicians make everything complicated and they're more concerned with getting elected than the well-being of the country. How can that not be true? We ask so much of our elected officials, and the minute it became a job, and not a volunteer position, we gave up most all hope of someone acting for an interest beyond their own well-being.

But that's the point - WE did it. And there's a reason. It's the same reason we take our car to the mechanic, or the same reason we have maids clean our homes. It's the idea of "Let Someone Else Do It." I will make a smaller sacrifice (carpooling to work for a week, allowing a stranger into my home while I'm gone) in order for me to forego a bigger sacrifice (having to fix my own car, clean my own house).

So we elect people to do the dirty work for us. But then, on top of that, we expect that the dirty work we didn't want to do will ultimately be something we could have done ourselves.

When I go to the mechanic and he points out all the bells and whistles that are wrong with my car, I get angry. I get angry because I think he's trying to confuse me in order to rip me off. It can't be THAT complicated I think! It was just a "whrrring" noise. Just fix the "whrrring" noise!

And when the cleaning lady puts things in the wrong places and I think she stole them, but really they were just misplaced, I get angry. I get angry because if I'd done it, I'd know exactly where they were. Not that I have the time to do it.

And the same with our politicians.

But the thing is this: our world is increasingly complicated.

It bears repeating.

Our World Is Increasingly Complicated.

And if you want Someone Else to make it easy to swallow, someone who takes the complication, the gray, and turns it into straight-talking black-or-white, I understand. And I understand why that person would think Sarah Palin is exactly what this country needs.

But you also should understand that it isn't that simple, and in making it seem that way, she's leaving a lot of important things out.

And it's tough, but YOU are going to have to sit down and look at the facts and bone up on basic economics and figure out how Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are all related if you want things to be done right.

Because you can't just leave it to Someone Else. Because like you said - someone else doesn't care about you as much as you do.


Kim said...

oh snap, BT. You're good.

I read a few things (maybe one was you? I don't remember, honestly) recently that basically say "I don't want someone who's just like me running the country. I want someone better, smarter, more qualified."


tony said...

bt, i think you're exactly right. i know i've a tendency to really dive in, to really become absorbed in something (like politics) but there are times that i am shocked (shocked, i tell you) to find out that close friends don't pay as much attention as i do, or don't really care as much (pat-pat-pat.)

thankfully, lately, they've all been democrats. i say that selfishly, because i know they'll vote the way "i would like them to."

but there are lots of republicans and conservatives and moderates who don't really care either, who don't follow very closely and don't understand many of the issues. and please, it is complicated!

earlier this week, i saw a clip of an obama rally where he said "if each of you goes out there and finds one, just one person who isn't gonna vote, and get them registered and get them to vote, it will win this election for us."

who do i know, i thought? no one.

then i had a conversation with my nephew. just turned 18. "i'm not voting," he told me. "i don't like either one of them."

"are you not voting because you don't like either one, or because you don't know enough about them to make a choice?"

he said if he were to actually vote, he'd vote obama. there he was! there was my one person. and he lives in wisconsin. now i just gotta get him to the polls on nov. 4!

BT said...

That's awesome about your nephew. I've felt the exact same way - who do I know that isn't going to vote!?

But you're right - they're out there, and it's worth the slight, extra effort to find them out.

tony said...

plus, i figure it's like the whole gay recruiting deal, right? i mean, i'm pretty good at that, so i should be able to get someone to vote for obama!