You won’t catch me writing about politics much (if at all) on this blog. Why? I hate politics, for a number of reasons. But, my attention has been particularly heightened by this year’s election season and I’ve been reminded of my pejorative feeling toward politics. Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not a cynic. And this posting actually concludes on a hopeful note. However, I continue to see something fundamentally wrong with the way we engage in “politics” in America, and I have to use this forum to point it out.
Why do I hate politics? Two reasons: Party Lines and Marketing.
What is the purpose behind electing representative leaders – especially President of the United States? Well, obviously, to represent us, but more importantly to do what’s best for the United States of America. How do we find the leader that is best for our country? Well, typically, we whittle the candidate down to a nominee for two political parties – Democrats and Republicans. Of course, there are independents, etc, but they never get enough attention, so we’ll not talk about them here, either.
OK, so what’s wrong with political parties? EVERYTHING. People are so incredibly blinded by political lines, that I fear we actually hurt our chances to progress as a nation. We so blindly follow our political lines that we ignore all else.
I have often seen perfectly reasonable, polite and intelligent people become monsters to defend their party lines. They name-call, get angry and get hateful. Very hateful. Why? Because you are not a Democrat. Or because you are not a Republican. This two-party political system seems to only DIVIDE a nation, not unite it. It seems laughable to be called the United States of America.
What has become of paramount importance is NOT finding solutions to our problems and growing stronger as a nation, but rather that OUR TEAM WINS. We are not Americans, we are rabid fans. Our personal identity is so connected to our party affiliation, that a loss for our party is a loss for us. Somebody who isn’t the same political party as us is “stupid” and “ignorant.” Don’t lie to yourself and tell me that you don’t think that way.
Tonight, Barack Obama won the presidential election. During John McCain’s concession speech, he simply mentioned Obama’s name (nothing negative, just mentioned it) and the crowd reacted with a booing crescendo. WTF? Uncalled for, crowd. It is always the red team versus the blue team. It divides us as a nation.
This is why I dislike the marketing of politics. Now, marketing is not an unfamiliar topic for this blog, but its connection to politics is. This marketing is primarily about winning (duh – nobody expected it not to be). But, the marketing goes far beyond the TV commercials. Every candidate has a campaign manager – they decide how to position the candidate versus their competitor. They decide the target audience, the message and the media. These is marketing – open your eyes. You are being SOLD on a candidate. Now, I’m not complaining about mudslinging – that’s been an issue for years. But, I do get irritated that the idea is to sell me, and sell me hard.
History has shown that candidates try to fall as far “left” or as far “right” as they can to get their party nomination. Once they get that, it’s time for the “dash to the center” – in other words, trying to present themselves as attractive to both Democrats and Republicans, to win the election. Politicians want us to vote along party lines. They want us to dislike the other candidate and dislike those who support that opposing candidate. We jump at opportunities to catch the opposing party losing. It’s all a game. Root, root, root for the home team – if they don’t win, it’s a shame.
The Party Lines build their army. “We want Republicans to control the House!” “We want Democrats to control the Senate!” It’s about one team controlling the nation over the other team. Even outside of the election, we maintain our blind alliances and make legislative decisions based on party lines. You wouldn’t dare cross party lines, would you? You traitor!!!
I have thought, for a number of years, that the country would be better off if we eliminated party lines. I have thought we would be better off to simply have non-partisan candidates. What’s the quote – “It’s amazing what we can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit.” What if it was just about electing leaders who could improve our country?
I know, this is overly idealistic. I don’t know that this would ever be possible at this point. But, I still believe that if we maintain a two-party system of Democrats and Republicans, then we will continue to be divided as a nation. We do not need yet another reason to divide ourselves. We already have race, religion, economic class, gender and sexuality. I imagine a country that is united. And I do believe it is possible.
As I was watching the presidential election coverage tonight, there was an interview with former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani. He was asked how Republicans would react tomorrow if Obama won the election. I thought his answer was extremely germane. He said, “Whether you were a Democrat for Obama, or a Republican for McCain, tomorrow we will all be Americans, and will support our President.”
That’s what I want for our country: No Republicans. No Democrats. Just Americans.