In a country where hypocrisy, political pandering and broken campaign promises are the norm of our political process, where each politician is under a constant barrage of lobbyists tempting them to betray their character and the common good of the country for thirty pieces of silver, how is the average-joe to respond? What is the every-day voter supposed to do? Over the years I’ve found my own response evolve into the simple motto: hate politics but love democracy.
Hate politics. This first part may be hard to swallow. After all, how can a guy who devotes so much time and effort writing about politics hate it? Furthermore, I find myself ever more eager to talk about it in public. I must love politics considering how I pursue the topic with such fervor. And as a matter of fact I do love politics – political theory that is. What I can’t stand is the political reality that stands as a constant obstacle to truth, and to real democracy in this country. Politicians, pundits, special-interest groups and, sadly, many average voters get sucked into the political vortex where they miss the forest for the trees. This is rampant on every side of the aisle, like Diane West of Big Peace who refuses to cooperate with muslims in defending the lives of millions of pre-born children because it would mean icky muslims coming in contact with our “respectability” and compromising the ethnic purity of America, or Feministe declaring laws like good conscience acts that allow health care professionals to opt-out of procedures they are morally opposed to, banning of sex-selective abortions, requirements that abortion providers post large signs that say it is unlawful to coerce a woman into having an abortion, and a law making it a crime for a woman to cause her own miscarriage are all “deeply depressing”. Then there’s also Arizona’s ban on teaching units in schools where “race, ethnicity and oppression are central themes” including Shakespeare’s The Tempest. These examples are just a drop in in the ocean of political vitriol that plagues our country at every turn. So, the reason that I hate the practice of politics in its current state is that it has no interest in the common good – instead, I see it more akin to a bunch of angry people trapped in a room all yelling their own self-interests and the loudest one wins; who wants that?
Love democracy. Instead, what I do love, and what inspires me to engage in politics at all, are the quixotic theories of democracy, subsidiarity, a free market, and the plucky tenets of Catholicism which are so audacious as to suggest that human life has intrinsic, infinite worth and all the ramifications that that has on the world. I love it because none of it is calculated, its not meant to mislead voters in order to win an election. All the theory is just so impractical. This is in stark contrast with the political machine at work here in America. Even Gingrich’s promise of a moon colony reeks of practicality. After all, its no coincident that the promise of colonizing the moon came on the verge of the Florida primary; its just another calculated ploy by a politician to win votes. G.K. Chesterton had the following to say concerning these calculating, practical men:
“There has arisen in our time a most singular fancy: the fancy that when things go very wrong we need a practical man. It would be far truer to say, that when things go very wrong we need an unpractical man. Certainly, at least, we need a theorist. A practical man means a man accustomed to mere daily practice, to the way things commonly work. When things will not work, you must have the thinker, the man who has some doctrine about why they work at all. It is wrong to fiddle while Rome is burning; but it is quite right to study the theory of hydraulics while Rome is burning.” – G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World.
Indeed, we need men and women who do the impractical, who question the system and ask questions like: why confine ourselves to the ideology of the War on Terror, or the Federal Reserve, or entitlement programs, or the income tax? Why do we build our boxes at the expense of innovation? When doing the same thing has resulted in colossal debt, millions unemployed, unjust wars abroad, and 52 million of pre-born children killed here at home listening to the same practical men say the same practical things again and again is maddening. This is exactly why Ron Paul appeals to so many. Here’s a man who accepts only individual donations, gives unused office funds including much of his salary back the US Treasury every year, opted-out of the Congress pension plan, doesn’t even talk to lobbyists, and endorses such radical initiatives as bringing all troops abroad home, cutting 1 trillion from the federal budget year one, ending the War on Drugs, and returning life-issues to the jurisdiction of the states. Regardless of whether Ron Paul’s particular stances are correct I think we need more leaders of uncompromising character who aren’t afraid to question politics as usual – and that goal starts with us and our vote.