Political season is hot and heavy in the United States and has been for awhile now as 2012 brings us the Presidential Election. Every
three four years we elect a president, but every three years we have to deal with political ads and media hoopla. Can you tell already how tiresome I think it all is?
Unfortunately, it’s also the season where people who have been Facebook friends for years get into political arguments that cause them to defriend each other and be bitter rivals for years afterwards. It would seem that most Americans can easily be torn apart by the discussion of politics. Which, if you think about it, is rather lame because IF it would have been such a divisive issue between friends, wouldn’t they have figured that out much sooner? Why does it take an election year to finally figure out someone’s true ‘passion’?
Personally, I don’t really ascribe to any political party (even though I’m registered Republican). I find policies on both sides of the parties I like and policies on both sides I don’t agree with. I voted for Bush and I voted for Obama. My Facebook even says I’m “purple” in the political category.
Recently I was talking to a friend who was bemoaning the political state of affairs in the country. Why can’t it be fixed, he asked. So I told him the story of the penny (from one of my favorite episodes of West Wing). In the episode Sam tries to figure out why they can’t abolish the penny. Sam’s quest takes most of the episode. On the pro side of the argument he has lots of great reasons, most pennies fall out of circulation (2/3 of them are never used again), the minerals used in creating a penny are mined and mining them pollutes the earth, and a bunch of other reasons, but he struggles to find a reason NOT to abolish the penny (the answer he wants to find). Finally, he stumbles across it – Lincoln is on the penny. Lincoln is from Illinois (the only state that accepts pennies in their toll machines). The Speaker of the House is from Illinois. All of that work, to simply kill a good idea.
I equate politics to a giant Jenga game. We can’t pull this piece out because it rests on all of these backroom policies, extra grievances, special interest groups, etc. As political folks have said in the past it’s much easier to pass a law then it is to change one we’ve discovered is broken. Politics is an inelegant system to deal with an elegant idea: democracy.
So, if you’re one of those people who have defriended someone for their political stance that you were friends with before, go apologize. Political party lines don’t define us. They define our broken answer to the inelegant system. Sometimes, as I learned in Sports Night, you’ve just got to separate the stuff from the stuff.