Are you tired of politics?
God knows, I am. As big a politics junkie as I used to be - in my time as a flag-wavin', God-fearin' Republican there wasn't a Townhall.com update I didn't read, nor an issue of _The Economist _I didn't completely consume for more general news before moving on to a host of blogs - these days I can barely finish a simple newspaper article without feeling that despicable strain that comes from forcing my poor brain to endure the consumption of totally repetitive and irrelevant information (for those of you who aren't Bible geeks like me, think of how you feel when reading the Book of Leviticus). Unless that newspaper article details the sexual exploits of one of our holders of higher office, anyway, because at least the secret life of Mark Sanford appeals to the voyeur in me.
But what the heck am I supposed to find interesting about Washington today - or indeed the world? No thoughtful debate of current issues exists within the federal and state levels of U.S. authority. Bills are written at absurd length and then submitted to the floor for approval on days when reading them, much less discussing them is impossible - and often include "blank checks", entire sections which are simply to be "filled in later" without returning for reconsideration. Which might be averted had our so-called representatives the huevos to simply vote down bills they've only just learned about, but Congress is utterly beholden to the unions, corporations, foreign governments, and associations which purchase its members' elections - the work of passing a bill doesn't really have anything to do with what's in it, so much as who is for it and who is against it. Indeed, at least in many sessions the leader of a party has simply informed his party's other members how they are to vote using hand signals - one for "yes", another for "no", an occasional third for "vote your conscience".
Oh, I suppose there is a little bit of discussion about the choices before us, now and then. Remember the most recent presidential debates? When an Ordinary Citizen would ask a pointed question and both Obama and McCain would simply ignore it, just make a vague statement about the economy or the Earth or Change instead? Just like their campaign managers demanded, I'm sure, because being boring and non-specific is how Poli-Sci wizards have determined one wins elections. There's a reason no president of our country has delivered a speech worthy of the Gettysburg Address in a very, very long time.
What is the American government that I am supposed to want to engage in it? Let's momentarily push past the oft-quoted reminder that "Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch" (Benjamin Franklin is often incorrectly cited as the author, but in fact nobody can find evidence of the observation been written prior to '92). Let's note instead the unchallengeable fact that even the laws established both by the Unites States Constitution and our government are ignored whenever they get in the state's way. The government has a "compelling interest" in ignoring our property rights. It prosecutes people and expressly denies them the right to raise funds for their own defense. It goes to war without declaring war. It spies on us. It imprisons people indefinitely after they are found innocent of the crimes with which they were charged. It takes my money and gives it to the people who voted for and contributed to whoever is in office.
So I should work to change all that, right? I should start a movement. I should convince others of my position. That's what Democracy is all about.
Sure. That's the ticket. I'll just convince a bunch of first-class thieves to pass a bill which forbids them from stealing. Perhaps something along the lines of what Dan Carlin repeatedly suggests: a bill that requires a politician to excuse himself or herself from voting on any bill that affects an industry from which he or she has taken donations. If I campaign tirelessly for its passage, I'm sure it will only be a matter of time. Say, the rest of my life.
And really, that's a point I think needs to be brought up more often: the unknown amount of time I have on this planet and how much I can do with it. I have so many dreams. How much of this surely limited lifespan I have am I supposed to use up defending myself against these politicians and their supporters? These people hell-bent on owning me because they've bought into a utopian religion.
No, I really want nothing to do with any of it. I don't want to read another lie on the front page - and there is always a lie on the front page. I don't want to waste an hour or more of my day voting so that the next thief-in-chief to come along can say he has a mandate from me (or alternatively that he does not, but too bad).
But what options does rejecting this political arena, this total lie, leave me? Two, really: one is to resign myself to being at the mercy of whatever greedy power possesses the military might to hurt me and try to live my life as best I can anyway. The second is to succumb to what some commentators are snidely calling "the Bubba Effect" because they envision white rednecks from the South when they think of it (and incidentally, um, they're spot-on, 'cuz I am one). According to Glenn Beck's definition of the term (there seems to be disagreement), communities of like-minded individuals tend to form when citizens become disillusioned with the idea they are going to be able to live decent lives under their out-of-control government. Militias, for example. Or Christian Exoduses. Or Free State Projects.
I ask myself on a fairly regular basis these days if I have the courage to choose the latter and live a life of civil disobedience, as well as at what point the former would become unbearable (after Hate Speech Legislation? After socialized medicine? When my taxes reach a certain level?). Fortunately for me it's an academic question for now. I've the next several years of my life planned out and they mainly involve overseas work, living as a guest in other countries. My decision will remain deferred 'til my return.
And then, what?