Little known fact about me: I LOVE politics (a recent preference that was uncovered by Happily Never After)
I love politics mostly because I love reading public opinion. It’s my kind of gossip, only instead of talking about people, we are talking about issues, and instead of attacking behaviors, we are attacking arguments. And, I really love watching how the media hypes insignificant issues up by changing word choice, and how the public reacts in a panic–Ebola, the Greek Euro Debt Crisis, plastic surgery–all my favorite topics to study. I register as unaffiliated because I believe it depends on the issue. Here is usually how I select my choices: I don’t like it when Big Business takes advantage of the people, and I don’t like it when people take advantage of the system.
I don’t like it when Big Business takes advantage of the people because most of the time, Big Business was privileged to start in a position above others. I used to work at a small, locally owned restaurant, and it was awesome; the managers were cognizant of scheduling, they hosted employee parties, and paid for our uniforms. Then, Big Business came in and corporate-tized the whole thing. Suddenly, we were forced to work longer hours that didn’t make any money, employee parties rarely existed (and in fact we had to start paying for our shift beverages), and our uniforms were no longer free. Employee morale significantly plummeted, people started just not showing up for work, and we were much less productive, because we were much less motivated. I worked on a research team in college which was trying to get a new disorder into the DSM, and despite all the research that supported the relevance of the disorder, insurance companies did not want it in, because then they would have to offer treatment, and funding, for the disorder. Or, just last week, I retrieved my car from being at the body shop for three weeks due to hail damage. The work itself probably took about three days, but the insurance company and the body shop argued for three weeks about the extent of the hail damage. It’s all a money game, and the humanness is often swept aside, and I don’t like that.
But, on the other hand, I also don’t like it when people take advantage of the system. As a single, working American, about a third of my (very meager) paycheck goes to taxes, and its always really frustrating to hear stories about people who are sitting around, buying steak for dinner, doing drugs, and not contributing to society whatsoever. I recently watched this documentary, The Ivory Tower, which is basically about how higher education should be free to all people, and I couldn’t help but disagreeing, because, while K-12 education should be offered, higher education is a choice that we make, and if I can’t pay for that private college, then I should consider something more affordable, because unfortunately, we ARE born into limitations. I don’t like entitlement, I don’t like laziness, and I don’t like people taking advantage of a system.
The problem with politics is that the arguments are rarely about the issues themselves. We spend a lot of time pointing fingers at “oh those there Democrats” and “those staunchy Republicans” that its rarely about the issue itself, but rather, which political party supports that issue. So, what happens is, the Democrats claim one side of the argument to catch those voters, the Republicans claim the other side to catch those voters, for the ultimate goal of making the most money possible. It always seems a little fishy to me when one political candidate suddenly switches his/her view on abortion in the middle of the election to capture more voters; shouldn’t your view stay the same throughout?… I personally think this is why our Congress is so dysfunctional; instead of dissecting the issues, it becomes more a game of “I am not going to vote for that just to spite the Republicans” and “I can’t support that issue because the Democrats do”.
What I think is scary about politics is just how dangerously easily people can be manipulated and persuaded. I show the documentary Waiting for Superman for the sheer fact that its an incredibly manipulative piece. It does an excellent job of tugging on your heart strings, while it follows four little kids, whose “lives are destined for failure if they do not get into charter schools”, and the last fifteen minutes of the documentary suspends it’s audience in anticipation, and when the kids do not get into those charter school, we feel personally slighted. The documentary even does an effective job of offering counter arguments, and suggesting why private school doesn’t work either. When watching at just face value, Waiting for Superman is very persuasive.
The more I learn, the older I get, the more political interactions I have, the more I realize there is no such thing as truth because truth can be altered. A simple graph, which appears to have hard data, can be manipulated by changing the intervals to make the lines look steeper or shallower to fit a certain agenda. Posters could say, “98% of Americans would want to live on Mars”, but that percentage could change based on their population size, sample, and demographic area (which, of course, they will never expose to you). Even the politician themselves cannot be trusted, because what they say and what they actually do could be two totally different things. So I have a difficult time affiliating myself with one political group, because I can’t trust any of them.
So, if the ballot says, “Spaceship broken; need new parts and will offer free rides” , then I am probably going to vote for it. If the ballot says, “Impose this tax increase so we can buy ourselves a new set of wheels”, then I am probably going to vote against it. And, if you ask me which party I belong to, I will say I don’t trust any of them.