How I Feel About Politics… (Or Everything I Know About Politics I Learned from Aaron Sorkin & Colbert)

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.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I like that, being purple, it works for me 🙂 I am registered as a Dem but don’t ascribe to any party. There is no one in office or running for office that represents me, and I think this predicament is rather common in America. If it wasn’t a typical problem I don’t think we would have had the occupy movement, which as much as I can have my issues with it I have to admit that it got everyone talking about how messed up everything is. I have voted in every election since I turned 18 years old. I am one of those people that researches the candidates, even the ones running for judge, I want to know who I’m voting for and why. I have had to “pick the lesser evil” in so many elections I can count on one hand how many times I have actually VOTED for someone. Three times, twi senator races and one primary and they were all for the same person. Other than that I am always compromising or voting against a really scary candidate. This year I find it hard to find a lesser evil, to find a compromise I can be comfortable with, perhaps this is why people are getting so heated? Perhaps rather than taking out their frustration on the system that is failing us they are taking it out on their friends who didn’t make the same compromise that they have.

    My brother in law is very political, and half the time he and I disagree, but we can talk about it and discuss what’s going on because we respect one another. Most people can’t do this, most people either freak out at things he says or go so overboard agreeing with him that they are scaring him. There is the saying of never talk politics and religion, yet these are the things we should be talking about. We need to come at it with respect and an analytical eye, not gut reaction and emotion.

    Like you said, people need to not lose friendships over this

  2. Posted April 26, 2012 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Purple, huh … interesting! I like that. I’m registered Republican so I can vote in Indiana primaries (I’m being told now that it isn’t necessary here — just that when you vote in a primary it can only be within one party or another). However, almost every one of those oddly general tests puts me in the right leaning moderate category. I’ll never understand how someone can define themselves as all conservative or all liberal, when there are so many issues that need to be individually examined.

    I’ve never defriended anyone over political differences (I don’t like to defriend anyone, period!) — but I have been defriended by self-proclaimed liberals. Doesn’t seem like a very progressive attitude, to me.

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