Friday, December 19, 2008

Why I've Been Taking a Bit of a Break (From Politics)

When I was in my early twenties, I flirted with radical activist politics. Expressing a deep sense of righteous indignation about a variety of things, using important-sounding words to underscore my points, finding fault with almost every system and function within society, and generally staying in a state of mind somewhere in between frustration and condescension was my life. In short, it was too much, it was draining, and I never got any resolution for all of my lofty goals and aspirations. Furthermore, the strident voices of the radical left, while they aim to win converts, end up isolating themselves from only a few true believers and instead of informing the masses, they instead turn off the average Jane or Joe. Thus they exist in relatively tight-knit colonies of the most committed and devoted to the cause, these insular cells which if entered look not unlike a parallel universe.

It was at that point that I shifted more to the middle. Not because I was actively surrendering my ideals, but mostly because as a moderate it was highly plausible to occasionally see some reforms I favored passed into action. The life of a radical is a life of feeling supremely isolated and it's also a life of being around a bunch of self-important complainers who are always pissed off about something. Even the biggest success gets parsed, analyzed, and transformed into something else to be angry about---mostly because the change enacted didn't go far enough. Being that radicals almost never get anything they want, I couldn't function for long as one of them.

Now we're in the part of the political season whereby we are called to collectively second-guess the cabinet selections and tentative decisions of the President-Elect. I have a totally different perspective, since Obama's election in and of itself is joyous to me. I think perhaps we must think we're somehow obligated to get everything we want exactly the way we want it, which subsequently reminds me of my radical days. Even if the most liberal political candidate ever was elected, I don't know if he or she would make every decision more or less in line with the whims of the left-wing base. I'm not sure if we're a nation of whiners as much as we are a nation which claims to want a diversity of ideas, that is, as long as they're the same are ours.

Case in point. Click ahead to around 4:44 or so in the below film.


Anonymous said...

I have been taking a break, too, from the machinations of the process. I'm really trying to reserve judgment on cabinet picks, for example, until those people are confirmed. I want to see what they do before I really put forth an opinion.

I did have a snit fit this morning though when it occurred to me that Republicans are allowed to behave in the most partisan, divisive ways and Democrats are always expected to play to the middle and take the political high road.

(The governor of Illinois not withstanding, of course.)

I got over it, though. Two wrongs don't make a right. And though I'd love to see real progress, I'd just be happy to see some of the horrors of the last 8 years undone at this point.

Yes, my expectations have lowered that much.

Mauigirl said...

Thank you, Kevin, for this excellent post. I think your perspective is very valuable. I agree - radicalism on the left is not the way to get the job done.