11.22.2016

Why I am Politically Disengaged



I am intentionally disengaged from the political process in our country.

To be clear, I voted in our recent election, indeed I have only opted out of voting once in my life.  I care about the direction of our country.  I am moderately informed about the policies that we create and enforce.  I have opinions about what those policies ought to be.  There are even a few people that I will discuss those opinions with from time to time.

So what do I mean when I say I am disengaged politically?

   I don't listen to 24-hour news media (right or left).
   I don't rant on social media.
   I don't put bumper stickers on my car.
   I don't call people communist.
   I don't call people racist.

I am disgusted by the vapidity and rancor of those who do these things, so I opt out.

Whats more, in the end I don't care too much who gets elected, or how things unfold.  I don't get angry or afraid, nor do I get excited or hopeful.  I definitely don't think about trying to have any significant effect on the process.  Indeed, US politics is like the weather in that I can no more change the course of our nation by voting than I can make it rain by spitting in the air.

The interesting part is that I actually studied Political Science in college.  For years I studied our political process formally, and sat around talking politics with my friends informally.  It was an enjoyable pastime, something akin to golf or chess.  We didn't yell, or call names; we were dispassionate.  Something in our national discourse, however, has changed.

In my mind it changed in connection with the 2000 election, but I may be wrong about that.  What I am not wrong about, is that I used to be able to sit with a group of people and talk politics without anyone name-calling, crying, yelling, or running out of the room.  In the years since leaving college it is increasingly unlikely for this to happen.

I may be wrong about the causes, but my suspicion is that the rise of social media and the 24 hour news cycle are to blame for this.  We are now inundated with conflict-mongering "news" channels that have to create drama in order to boost ratings.  This means we have to find the one KKK member, or the one Communist Party member, and put them on camera to create the idea that our nation is locked in combat between crazy people.  In order to make money they sell the story that the KKK and the Communist Party each represent 50% of our nation.  (In reality these groups together represent approximately 1 in 50,000 Americans.)

What is more, we then take our fear and anger and broadcast it without a filter, to everyone in our online social network.  It then gets re-broadcasted as fodder for the conflict-mongering cycle to continue.

As a follower of Jesus, my response is to simply walk away.

To be continued...

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