Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Principled Stand

It's a time for reflection of a far different nature this weekend in more than one of the world's major religions. Such contemplation is far more important than anything that I have to say about pretty much anything. I will not therefore bore you with a long rant this weekend, but instead just a quick note as we begin the run up to primary voting in just one month.


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No matter which side of the political argument you're on, you have to admit that there are some on the other side that are saying and doing some pretty stupid things these days. The fact that by such admission, you are likewise admitting that there are some on your own side that are saying and doing equally stupid things should not dissuade you from doing so. 


This is not to say that all politicians are stupid (though it sometimes seems a near thing), but that far too many are more concerned with playing to the worst of their respective audiences than with taking a well thought out and truly principled stand. 


Such after all, is most of the nature of political argument in these days of Twitter, Facebook, and 24-hour news networks. Those in front of the cameras and the microphones and those in front of the keyboards and the cellphones are committed to the "sound bite" and the "moment" in an almost desperate need to be clever; even when they are not. Those not in front of the cameras and who long to be, are willing to breach common sense and common decency if it gives them a shot at their 15 minutes (or 15 seconds for that matter) in the spotlight. 


How else should we expect them to behave in these days of self-involved television shows where truly talented and wildly untalented alike are granted the media spotlight, where reality shows that are as close to being real as they are to being entertainment search for the lowest common denominator in humanity, and where media outlets that are hell-bent on blurring the lines between journalism and punditry spend half of their time confusing the issues and the other half accusing their competitors of doing so? How are we to respect legislators who find it difficult to find time to speak to their constituents or show up for a vote, but can find time to read pages of natural fertilizer into the Congressional Record on C-Span's cameras to an empty room? 


It has in fact become so confusing that even those of us who actually spend time trying to sift through the muck of the issues have difficulty in telling the difference between a principled stand and a made-for-media posture. Then again, considering that those showing up to vote regularly in elections normally slips well below half of those eligible to do so, how many really care to know? 


It's a shame when you think about it, but I suppose that it's part of human nature. Much like people, a culture can grow weary; especially under the constant effort required by the effective application of limited democracy in a Constitutional Republic. Perhaps 200+ years of such effort is beginning to show on the one that we are a part of. It must often make one feel like Atlas bearing the weight of the world on ones shoulders (Could this then be why Ayn Rand believed that "Atlas Shrugged"?). Little surprise then, that so many should find it so difficult to take, to maintain, or to expect from political leaders a principled stand.



2 comments:

Roland Hansen said...

My 5 second sound bite regarding stupid politicians:
The definitionh of stupid is in the mind of the beholder.

My 5 second sound bite regarding reality television shows:
Reality TV is like alternate universes - Twisted!

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

You make me concerned about my own mind then, as I am increasingly finding stupid on both sides of the aisle.