Friday, January 06, 2012

[Rant] It's Happening Again

It's Happening Again: The scourge of all mankind, Politics, is upon us again. I really hate this. Clear thinking people can reduce any policy conflict to a core philosophical difference in about 2 minutes. What passes for political discussion is not thoughtful inquiry; it is finding the appropriate position to signal what sort of person you are to others. Are you caring and compassionate? Are you fiercely independent? You may think you are arguing some policy point, but even without hearing your contentions I feel statistically confident in telling you your argument is full of holes and contradictions and the only reason it rings true to you is that demonstrates the personality point you approve of.

Of course I'm not talking about you personally. You are the exception. Your beliefs are all the result of skillful reasoning and logic. Your internet forum comments are rife with insight. Your blade-sharp wit deftly punctures the falsehoods of the other side. You are capital C correct, and you know it. I'm talking about other people.

Look, I'm not against holding political opinions. I'm against the faith you have in them that makes you feel like it's OK -- no, IMPORTANT, that you express them everywhere. During the last election, I don't how many sites I had to remove from my feed reader because every other post was some wiseass political comment. No movie critic could write a review without turning a back flip to make a half-baked snarky aside. No sports journalist could describe a game without twisting to find an angle to relate it to the election. Facebook and Twitter were overloaded with links to "brilliant" clips from Jon Stewart or Bill Maher or some idiot on the Huffington Post. (By the way, I am the only one who thinks absolutely every "news" outlet should be paying royalties to Paddy Chayefsky?)

And what does it all amount to? You can elect Republicans to reduce the deficit and watch them go on a spending spree. You can elect Obama to close Guantanamo and end hostilities and watch him get all drone happy and shrug his shoulders about military detentions. And you'll do it all again four years later because it's not about policy, it's about your self-image -- you are showing the world what kind of person you are. This is fine; maybe even for the best. But doesn't it at least give you pause to wonder whether you should be so righteously bludgeoning the people around you with your editorial commentary? I mean, even though it's in the guise of "issues", you are after all talking about yourself -- what sort of person you are, and how correct it is to be that sort of person, and how important it is for others to be that sort of person too. I mean, generally when people do that we make fun of them behind their backs.

Oh, but not you. I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about other people.