Letters from Home

Your Government, Your Lemon

I overheard my brother-in-law refer to our current President as a “c*cksucker” during a recent stay at my parent’s house. This sparked a political dance/conversation on Facebook between myself and an old friend from high school.

The curious bit about this conversation is that I haven’t seen this women since high school. I have no idea what her political beliefs are, but I have no problem expressing mine to anyone. I don’t tend to hide my open-minded, liberal nature.

The gist, though, was my friend N indicated that “there are 2 things families (and friends) should never talk about…religion & politics.”

Are we really supposed to shut up at our family gatherings or lunch with the girls? Is it really the best choice to ignore our unlike-minded family/friends, especially when they are casting slanderous remarks at the Commander in Chief?

Friends and family must be the playground for political arguments and conversation. Who else knows you? Who else do you know so well, so well you can manipulate with a few choice rhetorically savvy comments? I mean, only you know how committed you great Aunt Jean is to enforcing capital punishment for retards! Memorize a few choice stats and you could easily get her thinking about an issue or a candidate she might never have considered before.

Right now, in Stratford, our police, mayor and town council are in a HUGE political in-figthing mess that involves the police stealing medical records to stop the mayor’s brother from being hired onto the police force, while the town council whines about the “absolute power” of the mayor and tries to get nasty about a — wait for it —  community garden (egads!) that he approved without talking to them. The horror.

No wonder people hate “politics” — except that we  “people” (re: citizens, voters, Americans) are getting just what we deserve. The more people with the mindset like my friend “N” withdraw from involvement in their own community and the knowledge of their own government, — or refuse to even talk to their own friends and family about what they believe in — the more our governments become a isolated havens for corruption.

Our towns, states and our nation’s governments are breaking down the same way a car breaks down when you drive it into the ground, ignoring the the pings, clunks, and engine lights telling us at every turn it needs service — oil changes, tire rotations, and a good clean out — serious, committed attention from its OWNERS to achieve longevity.

7 thoughts on “Your Government, Your Lemon

  1. I agree that technology (blogs/networking sites) has furthered the lack of meaningful discourse. However, saying that, I’m not so sure if the good old days were all that good. Ignorance has most certainly sustained the decades.

    However, in the end, respect has always been a vital element to healthy communities and our political system has been experiencing a decline in this virtue among both our government and its citizens.

    For me, the question becomes, who profits from the lack of discourse?

    I’m not a conspiracy advocate, however, I can spot motivations in and outside the government.

    To a elected official, the status quo is more personally beneficial than progress.

    To the citizens-at-large, the entities that have a stranglehold on officials, play a part in the how the discourse is presented.

    I would suggest that people really begin to look closely and thoughtfully regarding the information they are given. The conglomeration of news outlets has definitely put a spin on what news is reported and how it is presented on both sides of the spectrum. These “presentations” are driven by who can hold the larger audience share thereby pleasing the advertisers and making “news” profitable.

    The (mis)information spoon fed by these entities, which are at the mercy of spinning a 24 hour news cycle into gold, have contributed greatly to the hostility evident in public discourse.

    When the advertising that these companies do to keep these entities on the air, they indirectly support the content. Are they responsible for divisive rants? No. Are they responsible to re-evaluate if their advertising should be paired with the content? Absolutely.

    This is the dance that advertisers, studio heads, and consumers work out, one message at a time, which shapes a company’s brand in the mind of the public. At the end of the day what really happens is that we, the consumer, hold the media accountable to a higher standard and the advertiser from selling a product at any cost. When it works, we are all richer.

    It works the same way for elected officials. We can facilitate positive change, provided we get properly informed.

    The tide won’t turn until people begin realize this. Until then…

  2. I dumped my facebook account precisely because of politics. I reconnected with former friends and was horrified by how kabuki-conservative they were. Despite this, I was willing to engage in debate, but quickly found how anemic they were in relation to awareness of the issues and solid information regarding these issues. Much of what I got in response was canned noise with no relation to reality. In addition, I was discomforted by the level of hostility that framed their arguments. In the end, it became clear that there was no purpose in continuing these engagements and I decided to essentially dop the whole account. In some way I feel as if I betrayed myself in that act, but on the other side I didn’t see the purpose of continuing with a social networking site that had become anything but social.

    In the end, I firmly believe that discussing politics is vital to those of us who care, however the difficulty I have encountered is that there is very little “discussion” going on. It seems to me that few understand the notion of dissent and disagreement and seem rather to be focused on conversion and exorcism.

    1. Jay,

      I’m sorry you ditched Facebook on DM’s account. I ditched email, sort of, for the same reason. I used to email, in bulk, to friends and acquaintances to tell them what was going on in my life. In respond, I got put on bulk email list that included all kids of ridiculous lies (see snopes.com before you email crap like that, hello!!) and started blasting of long email messages back to the groups. Eventually I found myself just deleting any emails I got from those particular people– some of them family.

      Conversations do seem to have become horrifyingly one-way and one-sided. Blogs have done that, where you can comment but not really have any responsibility to reply meaningfully. The snarky rant allows us to blather on (TALK RADIO is the same way) to niche audience, but to have no responsibility to any true critical response. In the day of three TV channels, things were different.

  3. Talk of politics was one of the refreshing things I loved about France and the french people: Children walking to school to the elderly in the produce areas of the grocery store were well-versed, educated and yet willing to listen to other opinions – mainly because they LOVE opinions. How refreshing!

  4. You forgot sex. You aren’t supposed to talk about that either!

    I love to talk about politics and religion with family and friends and complete strangers. Face to face frank discussion is like the warp threads in the fabric of our society. They tie the whole together and give it strength and structure. Some ideas are a little loopy, but they sure add interest with their contrast. How do you determine if your ideas and opinions represent your true feelings and values if they are never brought into the light, pulled at and inspected. Different perspectives are so important to arrive at the truth of a thing. I say let’s argue and disagree and fight and cry and agree and compromise, but most of all let’s communicate face to face and with love in our hearts for the people we share the earth with.

Comments are closed.