Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Politics as sport


When I was a younger person, I loved politics. I found all of the give and take, arguments, scheming and backroom rumors all fascinating. I read books and articles, followed discussion on TV.

The older I get, the more I fucking hate it. I said I'd shut up about it and I'm mostly keeping to that, in that I have nothing about my personal partisan views to comment here. Just to the entire process.

This election cycle is particularly unpleasant. If we ever wondered if this protracted primary process was a good idea, we have been disabused of that notion. I'm sure if I weren't so exhausted from all of it, I'd be open to hearing why someone thinks that it's a good idea to have the primaries in the 21st Century run for a full five months, but I am so I'm not. At this point, I think this schedule is an assault by the political parties against the American people as a whole. I'm exhausted and angry enough that I'm beginning to feel like it's intentional.

Here's the thing I've come to. The election cycle has made me hate a lot of my fellow citizens. Not just the people I disagree with overall, but the people I generally agree with. Why don't they all shut up?

You're all fucking wrong. Get over yourselves!

I should leave it at that. I don't believe everyone's wrong in the choices they're making at the ballot box, although there are certainly many whose choices I do not agree with.

But here's the thing, we've turned this all into a team sport.

Look, in principle, I'm all good with team sports on their own. I root for the Seattle Seahawks. If they win every game this year and leave every other team in the dust, staring in shock with tears running down their faces in pure awe of the spectacular athleticism and teamwork, that's pure win for me. That is the entire goal.

My goal in football is not for the glory and prosperity of the NFL or the joy of football fandom as a collective. I don't give a fuck about those things. I have no reason to.

Football perfection is achieved by my team destroying as many other teams as possible.

I don't have any loyalty beyond that. What? Another NFC team wins? Is it the 49ers? Yeah, fuck that!

So, when my team fouls a little, I can put it down to hard play or referees having it out for them. When a close call goes my team's way, it's fair, there are close calls. When a close call goes the other team's way, it's a outrage and how can they be allowed to let those blind motherfuckers on the field? Don't they have some kind of tests for these things?

But winning, in that sense, should not be our goal in politics.

The goal in politics is that we as the people of America, as well as our various localities, as well as the other nations in the same mire, is peace, prosperity, life, liberty, etc., for us collectively and, as much as possible, each of us individually.

If some other team comes in and finds ways to provide those things, counter to my expectations, that is good for me. That's all.

When we get caught up in party names and make the team sport, then everything the other team does is wrong and everything our team does is right. Because it's team sports, not because it's real.

You are a real, living breathing person, do you really agree with your the party you identify with on everything they officially stand for? Do you even know all of their positions for sure? How about the candidate you've chosen, all of their positions on those?

Ok, let's say you literally click off all the same check boxes as them, would you prioritize them the same as they do in the real world?

If you and your candidate made a list of like 100 issues and prioritized them from top to bottom, how far off do you suppose you'd be on some of those?

My point is that if you look close enough, whoever you vote for in whatever race, you're making some compromises. That's good. You're two individual human beings. If you don't have some differences, one of you isn't doing your own thinking.

But everyone gets in their tiresome "my candidate" mode and ignores what our common goals are, whether as members of the same or similar parties, as Americans or just as human beings, and we set off to win every game. And every foul "my candidate" commits is excusable and part of a good, rough game and every foul the other candidates make is an affront to decency.

We use ad hominem attacks willy-nilly against candidates and guilt by association attacks on their supporters.

I did a Facebook purge and removed a number of friends whose condescending political horseshit had gotten on my last fucking nerve. And I think I agree with most, if not all, of them on the basics of the issues. I just utterly could not take anymore of it.

I very much doubt there's a conscious conspiracy. There are many problems with conspiracy theories generally. One of them is that there very often is no need for them.

Here, we have an antiquated election system. The end result is that it leaves the electorate exhausted and disorganized once it's over and the people given power begin to use it. There's no reason for them to have created such a system in order to ensure more power. The simple fact that they have no reason to want to change it, and we don't remember it ought to be changed until it's happening all over again. It's amazing how often inertia will do as much or more to keep people in power than action ever would.

And here we stand. Mainstream Republicans hate Trump. Trump supporters hate the Republican mainstream. Sanders supporters are mad at Clinton supporters. Clinton supporters are mad at Sanders supporters. People who reject the mainstream parties hate the mainstream parties and their supporters. It goes on and on.

That's before we've even gotten to the general election.

And I hate all of us. Just fucking hate us.

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