Being a “Political Junkie” is a Luxury

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 here. Not the “deplorables” that 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?) And not the American people at large. It is not true, nor is it 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 Wisconsin 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 done the right thing, Hillary Clinton would have won that one, too. Those three states were lost by about 100,000 votes and any two of them would have given her the election.

Our democracy is not broken. It works fine, when people actually use it. And that is the problem. Many years ago, the Republican Party led this country and the world into a Great Depression and we needed the government to pull us out of it. Democrats almost single-handedly pulled us out and the populace was so grateful, they basically kept Republicans out of government for a generation. Hell; almost two generations. It’s a major reason we call them “The Greatest Generation,” even though they kind of ignored civil rights during that time.

Them the generation that “grew up” In the Sixties, which included 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. And no, I do not mean the far right “Libertarians.” I’m talking about white liberals. They are fairly well off and they talk a great game about wanting to help the poor and minorities, but when it comes down to it, it’s all talk. Because the far right was loud but batshit crazy and the far left was basically echoing them, the electorate has progressively (pardon the pun) become increasingly complacent. With the electorate at large suffering from complacency and a whole bunch of political animals essentially joining in, we have a phenomenon in which otherwise intelligent people seem to forget that the electoral process is the centerpiece of the democratic system.

And let me be clear. If you are seeing Donald Trump  in office and:

  • Critiquing the quality of Hillary’s campaign;
  • Continuing to push Bernie as the savior of democracy, or;
  • Talking about starting a “third party” NOW:

You are not as smart as you think you are. In fact, you’re not really smarter than the “deplorables,” who at least know enough to latch onto a viable political party to try to gain some power in the government.

Over the last week, at least a dozen people 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. We actually have 137 registered political parties in this country, but only TWO are viable at the moment. And, if you think we can have more than two viable parties in this system, I have this bridge I’d like to sell you…

Could we build another political party? Of course we can. In fact, the same people who keep whining about their lack of choice have had 40 years to do just that. Yet, nothing. Of course, unless you can get enough votes to win a majority, what’s the point? Right now, the minority major party is the Republican Party, which means any other party that gets more than 1-2 percent of the vote would 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 it be even close to viable and, in the meantime, it would have to align with Democrats against Republicans to get anything done. The concept of the multiple choice 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 tad bit narcissistic, if we’re being honest.

The luxurious feeling that comes with living and voting in an unusually stable democracy has bred an interesting concept, in that a large number of potential voters don’t follow the political process at all. Again, to do so is a luxury they often can’t afford. This is not because they’re “ignorant and lazy,” and to suggest that constitutes a significant reason why a lot of people don’t like the process and don’t follow politics. Piss them off, or make them think their vote won’t count, or that both parties are virtually the same, and the exercise their option to stay home.

Let’s face it; one of the key valid complaints that most progressives have is that life is very difficult for an increasing number of people. Many people choose not to vote because they have that option and because voting can be a very difficult process for some people. Imagine you’re a mother with three kids that you’re trying to raise on the minimum wage and you have to take a precious day off from work to go vote? Imagine that mother has to take three buses and has to leave work early to vote at her local precinct? Also, don’t we always rightfully cite the voter suppression the Republicans engage in? Well?

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

Besides, when you look at the Lord Donny regime, it’s depressing. Think about it. If you’re worried about the fate of the human race at all, this has to be depressing for you. There is 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 you, if you are a white liberal, scream at the TV when you’re watching the news and imagine 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 were demanding that you watch the news like they do? How would you answer them.

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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