Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Political Dread

I do not enjoy presidential election years.  Unfortunately, 2016, a presidential election year, is approaching.

Elections of course are the essence of democracy, a chance for people to indicate their preferences as to the direction of the country.  Elections are good for us.

But then there is our politics.   Maybe American politics was ennobling at some point.  No longer.

I follow issues -- at least to the watered-down, ill-informed extent that we have issues today.  By the time November 8 arrives, I will have selected my candidates and I will cast my vote.

But between now and then I am going to have to put up with a bunch of crap that I would rather avoid. 

I have left-wing friends and right-wing friends and, best of all, friends who do not wear ideological straitjackets.  Sometimes I discuss political matters with this latter group, but not often.  I suspect that they, like me, have grown wary of what passes for political thought in our country.

The rest of them -- the people on the ends of the political spectrum -- put me off.  

The left-wing people assume that any belief held by a person on the right is wrong and bad and must be denounced as spurious and stupid.

The right-wing people assume that any belief held by a person on the left is wrong and bad and must be denounced as spurious and stupid.

Genuine discussion does not seem to interest these people.  Even with my limited education, I can tell that history, economics and science seldom figure prominently in their reasoning, which seems driven more by emotion than logic.

Both sides read publications and follow television programs and internet sites that congratulate them for what they already think.  They are strikingly incurious about why other people might disagree with them. 

My left-wing and right-wing friends all seem to assume that I agree with them and that we are like the cool kids in high school who always know just what to wear.   

Like the cool high school kids, people on the left and right are proud with themselves. They are also smug. They make up nasty names for their opponents, whom they regard with genuine contempt.

I cannot recall a time when I was convinced to change my mind by someone who called me names and treated me with contempt.  This is why I suspect that people on either end of the political spectrum are not interested in genuine discussions, only making points. 

Not surprising, then, that I avoid political discussions.  I don't think I'm not the only one.

Now all we have to do is endure the next 509 days.

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