Being a “Political Junkie” is a Luxury Many Cannot Afford

For nearly 250 years now, we have lived in one of the most stable democracies in world history. We are still that, but there are signs that such stability may be in trouble. And the reason for that is actually our fault, as Americans. I mean, it is tempting to blame Lord Donny, but the fact of the matter is, we put him there.

Yes, I said WE put him there. It wasn’t just the “deplorables” who make up most of the Republican “base.” (Seriously, has there ever been a better adjective for a political faction in history than the “base” Republicans?) It is the fault of the American people at large.

It is neither true nor fair to characterize the general public as “stupid” or unintelligent, especially when you consider that the votes that put Trump over the top in three key states constitute about 0.002 percent of the population. In Michigan, if one in five Jill Stein voters had chosen to do the right thing, Hillary Clinton would have won that state. If one-third of “independent” voters had done the right thing, Hillary Clinton would have won that state. In Pennsylvania, if all progressives had come out and voted for the only qualified candidate, Hillary Clinton would have won that state, too. Those three states were lost by less than 77,000 votes and any two would have given her the election.

Our democracy is not broken. As noted in my previous post, the problem is the lack of use. It works fine when people actually use it. Many years ago, this country led the world into a Great Depression caused by Republicans. We needed the government to pull us out of it, but Republicans weren’t up to the task. Democrats almost single-handedly pulled us out of the abyss and the populace was so grateful, they basically banished Republicans from the government for a generation or more. In the process, a lot of people, including a whole lot of “political junkies,” seem to have decided that we don’t really need the government so much, or that we need a lot less of it. The electorate as a whole has become complacent, but so have a whole bunch of political animals, apparently, because otherwise intelligent people seem to have forgotten that the electoral process is the centerpiece of the democratic system.

Over the last three years, many dozens, perhaps hundreds, of self-described “progressives” have practically BRAGGED to me that they voted for Jill Stein and another dozen who took issue with the factual statement that this democracy only has two viable political parties. They seem to not see the word “viable” in there, even though it is a very important word. There are actually 137 registered political parties in this country, but only TWO are viable at the moment.

Could we build another viable political party? Of course, we could, but unless you can get enough votes to win a majority, what’s the point? Right now, the minority major party is the Republican Party, so any other party that would get more than 1-2 percent of the vote could be a spoiler in their favor. What’s so progressive about that, really? If you want to build a SECOND political party to take the place of the GOP, you should do that. But you should also be painfully aware that it will take a decade or two before such a party will even be close to being viable and, in the meantime, your party will have to align with the viable Democrats against Republicans to have a chance of get anything even remotely progressive done. The concept of a ballot in which you get a wide variety of choices, so you can choose the one that is most like you, is a myth and, frankly, more than a little narcissistic, if we’re being honest.

The luxurious feeling that comes with living and voting in an unusually stable democracy has bred a large number of potential voters who don’t follow the political process at all. This is not because they’re “ignorant and lazy,” and to suggest such a thing poses a significant reason why many voters don’t like the process and don’t follow politics. Face it; one valid complaint that many progressives have is that life is very difficult for an increasing number of people. Many people choose not to vote because voting can be a very difficult process for some. Imagine you’re a mother with three kids you’re trying to raise on $10 per hour or less and you have to take a precious day off from work to go vote? Imagine she has to leave work early and take three buses to be able to vote at her local precinct? Also, don’t we always rightfully cite the voter suppression the Republicans engage in? Well? Why would we call such people “lazy” or “complacent” for not voting?

I know a lot of “political junkies” follow politics as if it was a life or death blood sport, but you have to understand that immersing yourself in political news is a luxury that a great many people really can’t indulge, even if they are inclined to do so because they simply don’t have the means.

Besides, when you look at the Lord Donny regime, this has to be depressing for you. There is almost literally nothing this “administration” does right. Whether the issue is national or global security, criminal justice, civil rights for people who are not white and rich, the security of a free press, healthcare, education, the environment, and climate change, or any of hundreds of other issues, Donny and his minions who occupy the White House (in every sense of the word) are an absolute disaster.

Think about how often white liberals scream at the TV when watching the news and imagine how you would deal with things if you weren’t well enough off to be able to waste time in front of the news all day? Imagine you were struggling and worried about paying the bills and someone was demanding that you watch the news the same way as they do.

We who follow the news should have a solemn duty to pass on what we know. However, we have to do so strategically, with an eye on making sure that the only viable political party that doesn’t want to destroy our stable democracy always wins elections. That means we have to recognize that not everyone has the luxury of immersing themselves in news and we have to understand that not doing so doesn’t make them stupid. And while it may make them ignorant, the cure for ignorance is knowledge. And no one learns anything when we scream at them.

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