Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Price Of Freedom, Revisited

Image credit: Laredo Firefighters

I've hit on this theme before, but Dana Hunter wrote a good essay yesterday from the perspective of someone who hasn't always been interested in politics:

I get you. I used to be you. I called myself an Independent, but I really belonged to the Apathy Party. I didn't follow politics because it just seemed to be a big fucking charade. Both parties disgusted me. The political infighting seemed like much ado about nothing. I didn't give a rat's ass about which ass got planted in the Oval Office chair because they all struck me as grandiose assclowns who placed party before country. And who was I to change that? One little peon who couldn't bother to be politically informed enough to make a serious choice for President.
But I am going to tell you something you won't want to hear: you're being played for a fool.

You're sitting there bitching and moaning about the state of your bank account, and the fact that you hate the war in Iraq, can't afford health care, your wallet sobs every time it's hauled to the gas station, and your mortgage is murdering you. And yet, you're not doing a damned thing about it, because you believe that nothing you do politically is going to make an iota of difference. Neither party has the answer to your woes. They're all lying crooks. Your vote won't do a fucking thing to get you out of the mess you're in.

An Open Letter to Politically Disinterested Americans

OK, I've never been one of you. I've always been interested in politics. I've always realized that I have an effect on the world and my own government, even if it's only a small one that takes far too long to assert itself. But this is my country as much as it is theirs. I honestly believe that their job is to run this country for us, not for themselves. Why? Because I've seen it work that way.

In my lifetime, I've seen black Americans go from being second-class citizens who weren't allowed to use the same facilities white people did, to being equals. I saw in an unnecessary war ended when the government would have let it go on for years rather than admit it was a mistake.

Neither thing happened merely because the government wanted it to. They both happened because this country's citizens demanded change. They did it on the streets, they did it on the job, and they did it in the voting booth. Even when the politicians didn't seem to listen, they heard us.

The only vote that doesn't count is the one you don't cast. I get so tired of people lamenting how politicians are all the same, which inevitably means that they are all corrupt and uninterested in their country.

The great thing about telling yourself that is that it relieves you of all responsibility to do any of the research and thinking required to find the politicians who will vote in your best interests. And that's just what the corrupt ones want! If that's all you expect, you'll never demand better. They want you to have low expectations, so they have nothing more to live up to.

As Dana put it, you're being played for a fool.

There is real power in numbers. The few of us who seem to care about the future of our country aren't enough. The corrupt and indolent in our governments can safely ignore us, as long as you continue to ignore them. That's the secret. Like I said before, it takes work. It takes learning things, and it takes making your voices heard.

That's what that vote is for. There are all sorts of ways to find out what your legislators and executives have been up to on the issues you care about. There are special interest groups that rate politicians on particular issues. There are blogs and publications that cover those things, too. This blog, and many, many others, are here to try to make sense of issues, and explain what's going on in a way that you can check for yourself. Find the ones that are interested in what affects you, and keep checking them.

If you don't like what is going on in your country, you have some power to change it. If you continue to do nothing, don't complain to me. I've already said I'm not interested in your complaints, and I meant it.


Dana Hunter said...

Hear, hear.

Especially in the Internet age, there's just no excuse anymore. And so, no - you don't get to bitch if you didn't cast a vote.

Cuj and I - we're going to be too busy drinking either to the victory or defeat to listen to you whine.

So there.

Cujo359 said...

I'll buy the first round, since I doubt I'll be around for the last...