7.21.2016

Why I Hate American Politics (Even Though I Live Here)

Okay, it's my first post in five months. Let's get this out of the way first and foremost: this is going to be the only time I write something overtly political on this site. I keep this site for fun, not to argue or generate hate-traffic and get extra clicks. The only reason I'm even writing this post is because this is something that's been on my mind a lot this year and I feel like it'll just keep gestating and percolating around in my brain unless I spew it all out somewhere.

This year's presidential election is one of the most divisive and bat-crap insane that I've ever personally experienced. And I was around for Bush v. Gore and the whole recount fiasco. And maybe it's just me having somewhat matured in terms of my own own opinions and beliefs about different political issues, but this is the one election I've been able to vote in that I don't have my favorite picked out yet. In fact, I really don't feel like voting for any of the candidates right now.

Oh yeah, the title. See, here's the thing. American politics are bonkers right now, mostly because of the incredible polarization of the different stances and opinions that our two major political parties have. It's not as simple as having disagreements about domestic and foreign policies but still respecting others' opinions. People seem prepared to go to war over their stances on a pretty wide variety of push-button topics.

And part of the reason for that is the way our political system is constructed. I don't think that the Founding Fathers anticipated just how divisive that the political system in our country would become, but they really should have. Let's have a bit of a history lesson.


"Now that it's signed, let's get right to work fixing the problems with it."

Anyone who's seen or heard Hamilton will know that after Washington's resignation as President and John Adams was elected in his place, things were already sliding down into the sort of split that would basically last throughout American political history (excluding the few years around the Civil War where the Democratic party basically didn't exist). Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and their friends placed State's' Rights over the power of the central government, while Adams, Hamilton and their party valued a strong central government above all. And thus, the two parties were formed to run in opposition to one another and to elect as many supporters of their views as possible into office in order to push through policies that followed their views.

The thing is, there's nothing in the Constitution or any of the later amendments that talk about, mention or even go into the possibility of having two opposing factions fighting over the seats in government. Which is a problem, because the American political system, specifically the policy making and changing parts, are designed to work best and fastest when the members of the various branches, Legislative, Executive and Judicial, are all in unison.

Now, let me make this clear: America is not a Democracy. If we were a democracy, there would be no President, no Supreme Court, and the members of Congress would only be elected to year-long terms, designed to create as much circulation as possible. A true Democracy is a rule by the people, without granting any of their own with enough power to do much of anything on their own. The United States of America is a Republic, where the rule of law was set out by an initial document which is then expanded and enforced by the various branches of government that have been set up. It's more structured and has a firm, set foundation in the form of our Constitution, something that doesn't change every twenty-to-fifty years as each respective generation leaves office or dies off.

Just because America is a Republic, though, doesn't mean that the people don't have a say in the matter. The people are the ones who are elected to offices, after all. The issue lies in the divisions between the differing factions. The art of the compromise, the tit-for-tat and quid pro quo of politics, all takes place behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, while the public sees only the inflammatory rhetoric and tentpole issues that are stumped for when election time rolls around. There's Red, and Blue, Republican and Democrat, Right and Left, and the line between them is so small and sharp you could cut yourself on it.

Have some statistics.

And therein is the issue. Because of the divisions, because compromises are so few and far between, it is extremely difficult for anyone in our government to accomplish anything of worth, no matter what "side" they are on. Our state government here in Illinois is so inept and fractured that they couldn't even pass a motion to approve a state budget for over a year.

And this fracture isn't one precipitated by the government, it comes from the people themselves. There is an incredible polarization of opinion between Conservatives and Liberals in our country today, and it's incredibly frustrating for someone like me who sits somewhere in the middle of the two. I have Conservative opinions on some things and Liberal opinions on other things. You know what that makes me? A Moderate. Or, as most people term it, a wasted vote.

I sit in the middle, watching two factions of people both of whom I care about tear each other apart like two mother bears whose cubs are in danger. We're past metaphorical hair-pulling, slapping and nail-scratching, we're into biting, ripping and tearing; we're to the point where people are being actually physically beaten and ostracised because of their political beliefs.

I have no idea what I'm going to do when the election time actually rolls around this coming November. I don't know who I'll vote for, the sociopathic blowhard or the pathological liar (make up your own minds as to which is which). I just want the hate and anger to stop. I want people to stop treating other people like sub-human scum of the earth just because they think something that isn't easy to agree on. Diversity is the spice of life, the differences of life, experiences and opinions is part of what makes humanity as a whole such an interesting and beautiful tapestry of life.

Pictured: What isn't happening enough (except over Pokemon Go).

I hate American politics because I hate what politics expose. Politics expose the dirty, the decrepit, the depraved and desperate. For an industry (and it is an industry) that is legendary for its half-truths and bold-faced lies alike, politics has a nasty way of showing us just what sort of people we really are under the veneer of civility. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Or shouts, or holds up a sign with a slogan on it, or chants along with a thousand others.

I'd put something down here urging for objective intelligence and civility in the debates and discussions to come between now and the election, but here's the thing: I'm so broken and cynical by it at this point, I know that nothing that I say will make a difference. I can say whatever I want, plead for sanity and sense, and nothing will change. I'll still have angry Conservative friends accusing me of being a filthy Liberal, and I'll still have Liberal friends sneering that I'm an ignorant Conservative. There is no middle ground anymore.

I guess I'm standing in a place that doesn't exist.