Thursday, July 26, 2007


I occasionally, during my lenghty daily commute, will switch the radio over and listen to talk radio for a while (don't ask me why; to be quite honest, I regularly ask myself the same question after about ten minutes of listening). Today I happened to switch over during a nationally syndicated show that I typically enjoy listening to. But one particular exchange today serves, I think, as a painful reminder of how utterly useless-and hopeless, in all likelihood-government, and politics in general, has become.

The host was interviewing a prominent figure in national politics, and the discussion turned to the war in Iraq. Now, before you, my faithful readers, sign-off-hear me out: this is NOT a political post! I simply want to make a point regarding politics in general.

The discussion, specifically, centered around the hosts' belief that we, as a nation, would be well-served by providing daily reports of enemy casualties to the general American public. In his estimation, and I paraphrase, if we were to provide statistics showing that we were, in fact, killing more of the enemy than they were of us, then Americans, as a population, would be more inclined to be supportive of the war effort. The discussion then veered into which metric would be more likely to garner a greater level of public support-the number of enemy deaths on a daily basis (as compared to our deaths), or a trend showing decreasing terrorist attacks.

I have to say, the whole conversation caused me to just shake my head in disbelief. For the record, let me say that the political opinions typically expressed by the host of the show, as well as his guest today, generally align closely with mine. So I have no political axe to grind here. But what does it say about the state of affairs-or more importantly, how skewed our perspective is, when instead of talking about the merits of a military action, we debate what measures we should publish to ensure we garner the highest level of public support possible for the effort? In the mind of these two, their position on the war was inarguable, based upon the letter after their name; the only thing left to discuss or debate was what information to feed the masses in order to convince them to jump aboard.

I, for one, have a difficult time mustering up any level of respect for any group of people who disregard the merits of any particular issue in favor of trying to prove themselves right, or their "opponents" wrong.

Which gets to the crux of the issue: politics today is about winning-about playing the game. Issues are chosen and argued based upon the expected reaction of the general public-with little thought as to right or wrong; prudent or fair. Which is why, I guess, it's so hard to tell the major parties apart any more. In fact, give me a list of 30 randomly chosen elected officials; remove their names and party affiliations, and simply list for me their position on various social issues, as well as a list of votes cast, and I would expect that, with minor exception, guessing the party affiliation of each of these would be nothing more than a crap-shoot.

So, I guess Shawna has it right. She's never registerd to vote, and has no intention of doing so. Because, in her mind, it's pointless. Anymore, we're not sure who, exactly, it is we're voting for; we just know what letter to look for. And that, my friends, is a sad, and dangerous, place to be.

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