Thursday, February 24, 2011

on the polarization of politics, and hope

I used to have opinions and care about politics. Involved in campaigns, in political organizations, lively discussions, reading local news and national news and international news. I used to feel like knowing and understanding and listening and expressing and acting and voting all made a difference. And maybe they did.

But I can't say any of that anymore. As our political organizations have become more extreme in the defense of their own views and of their opposition of all else, as the media has become more interested in stories of conflict, and as ordinary Americans (and, sadly, the youngest generation) see and hear less and less compromise, I have given up on speaking up - unless, of course, I'd be willing to shout.

I don't think that politics was always about winning. Don't get me wrong, it's always been a bit about power and influence. But lately the voices of reason and moderation have been marginalized as shouting and the squeezing through of agenda has taken over. The goal is to win, not to find a good way or a practical way or reach a compromise. They walk away, literally WALK AWAY if they don't like what they hear. They ignore, IGNORE, anyone who disagrees. It's not about the natural swing of power, it's about a "mandate". It's not about voicing an opinion that's not mainstream, it's being a "whack job".

I don't think I'm alone in this. Too often I hear of people giving up on politics, giving up on the system, begging for a third party, and asking how the hell we get out of this mess of a political environment.

The thing is, some had hope a few years ago, in Obama - certainly a life-leaning candidate, but an agent of change and hope nonetheless. Hope that he could shake things up, take the high road and be the better man, a compromiser. He said so much that gave so much optimism about who we are and what we can accomplish and how we can overcome our problems. He said so many of the right things, without even doing them, that he got a Nobel Peace Prize. Now that is nothing if not hope: the promise and potential and premature vision of better things.

We have a stake in one another ... what binds us together is greater than what drives us apart, and ... if enough people believe in the truth of that proposition and act on it, then we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done for the people with whom we share this Earth.
      - Barack Obama, 2006
And then he walked into office being followed by his own party in the majority; they over-ran him with their WE WON! mentality, and we sunk further into the pit for another two years. And those that flocked to his speeches with fresh faces and the encouragement and empowerment to make a difference have fallen back under the shadow of what he called "24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative ad, bickering, small-minded politics". His shine has faded and we're once again left feeling like the kid under the covers, listening to our parents shout every night.


I watch and listen as the Middle East struggles to find it's own way. I see revolution, in all its peace and all its violence, and I wonder: what will really change? I hear that Egypt's Supreme Council, in its "temporary" role as leaders of the nation, have such an broad footing in the infrastructure and economy of the nation that some fear they won't allow too much in the way of change, for fear of losing all of their own power. I see the Israeli's and the Palestinians shout and refuse to compromise in the same ways our own political parties chose to act these days.


So I see all this. And I'm numb. I can't care anymore. What good does it do? Where is the hope? Who is capable of being the voice of reason? What will it take to prevent us from running each other into the ground?


But that little voice in the back of my head, the wise one that knows this too shall pass can't help but want to put a step forward in spite of it all.



Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.
      - Barack Obama, 2008


So I take a stand, here and now. I AM WILLING TO COMPROMISE. I AM WILLING TO LISTEN, UNDERSTAND, AND RESPECT A POINT OF VIEW THAT IS NOT MY OWN. I AM WILLING TO GIVE UP A LITTLE BIT FOR THE GREATER GOOD. I BELIEVE WE ARE ALL CAPABLE OF COMPROMISE AND FINDING COMMON GROUND WITHOUT GIVING UP ON OUR INDIVIDUAL VALUES. I AM READY TO NOT JUST LOOK FOR HOPE, BUT HAVE HOPE.


ARE YOU? Will you join me? Share, repost, copy that last bit. Maybe it will inspire, guide, motivate, and give us the boost we need to find our way back to the middle road.




Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

1 comment:

  1. Well said.
    "Politics" has become a dirty word regardless of which "side" you're on.

    I would love to see a compromise on all sides that meant we were finally really doing it for the "good of all mankind."

    Sadly though... I'm not sure I can hold your hope. I want to... but the shine is lost on me lately and I can't get it back. But... I will keep coming back to your last paragraph and have hope in it. Is that good enough?

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