Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail (apologies to Hunter S. Thompson)

I hate politics.

I don’t find anything uplifting in it at all. Music, sports, nature — these things lift my spirit, give me a sense of the the vast beauty of the universe and the potential of humankind. Politics is just depressing, the lowest form of human endeavor.

Yet it’s important. Politics is how we choose who makes the policies that affect all of our lives. Policy determines whether we’re safe enough and prosperous enough to enjoy music and sports, whether there will be the means to venture into nature or whether there will be any nature left.

I have friends who are passionately engaged on both ends of the political spectrum. Funny thing is, though they have mighty different bumper stickers, they pretty much have the same values. They want their kids to grow up free, safe and happy, healthy and fulfilled. They want wide open spaces and the means to enjoy them. They like the same kinds of music and probably root for the same teams.

But put them together in a room and start talking politics, they’ll fight like a couple of cats tied up in a sack.

Politics is a form of tribal identity. As soon as you push those political and cultural hot buttons, people who share so much in common start focusing on their differences. Those differences become divides; divides become chasms. People who disagree become adversaries; adversaries become enemies.

Debate becomes conflict, conflict degenerates into a kind of political/cultural civil war.

This is nothing new. Politics in the U.S. (and everywhere else that’s free enough to have any) has always been nasty.
I don’t have a solution to this; I don’t think one exists. But I have made a determination for myself and I stick with it: I’ll never judge a person by his politics — though I might judge him by the way he pursues his politics — (that's him or her for you gender-neutral-language cops) and I’ll never lose a friend over a political disagreement.

Jim Cornelius, Editor


  1. Todd Dow -- Sisters OregonSeptember 10, 2008 at 10:39 AM

    Interesting post on Duncan's blog about political discussions and opinions. Duncan got drawn into a political "discussion / argument / mud wrestling match" and tried to fight it out with several anonymous bloggers. Interesting read (on both blogs).

    For reference: http://pegasus-dunc.blogspot.com/2008/09/arguing-politics.html with a reference to BB2

    Fortunately for all of us ... "I’ll never judge a person by his politics" ... makes you a better person than most of us out there. Wouldn't it be nice if people presented their position/opinions without the baggage and miss directed emotion. Most of us, including myself, could use some time thinking prior to speaking. We are fortunate that we live in a society that allows us to speak our mind -- Even if it's done in a less than stellar approach.

    I can't wait for November 5th and then end of Smith/Merkley ads ... among others. I tuned out a month ago on the Smith/Merkley ads but not necessarily on the race.

    I love politics ;-0

  2. Yes Jim, good post again. Have you seen what went on at BendBubble2? Almost to 1000 posts and everyone is up in a row. I think it's pointless to try to discuss "politics" in this kind of forum. Now, discussing ideas and how those shape one's worldview, that is worth discussing. Politics is a nasty business and I too can't wait until the "season" is over.

    Thank you for the rational and well thought out posts.

  3. I just want the candidates to act like adults. The mud is flying and I'm just about ready to vote for "None of the above"

  4. Quimby said

    Yes Jim, good post again. Have you seen what went on at BendBubble2? Almost to 1000 posts and everyone is up in a row.

    One thing that you have to realize, Quimby, it that about 99% of those 1000 posts are from the same 4-5 people.