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Approaching Political Apathy

July 19, 2012

Four years ago, when I was a newbie at this blogging thing, I posted a lot on the presidential campaigns and election, fantasizing about ideal candidates, ethically analyzing McCain and Obama, complaining about the dishonesty of the campaign ads, and reacting to the candidacy of Sarah Palin. Good times.

I have less than no desire to do this again this time around.

I feel a little like Alyson Hannigan’s turned-evil Willow in the sixth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer–”Bored now”–but thankfully without the vengeful inclination to magically skin alive mine enemies. I’m just bored now with the campaigns. I’ve no interest in viewing advertisements, let alone thinking about them. I’m more or less “meh” about the prospect of an upcoming VP pick. I suppose I might raise my head and incline an ear when the debates come along, but I don’t expect any new revelations. I know what Romney and Obama serve, and it ain’t largely the common good.

I had no illusions about the candidates in the last presidential election, but I still held on to the hope that the prospects could be better, that we didn’t as a rule have to pick between two poisons. I’ve now lost all hope for ever seeing an Aragorn or even a Jon Snow ascend the steps unto the national stage. President Obama has delivered a first step in health care reform, a remarkable achievement for which I am thankful, but he’s also given us continued war with the death of innocents, and assumed the power to assassinate American citizens.

I haven’t ruled out voting this year, but I’ve almost reached the point of not caring. Almost. There are differences between Obama and Romney worth consideration, and I have considered these, but I’m inclined for now to keep their roads to the White House beyond my horizon.

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  1. Willem S permalink
    July 19, 2012 7:48 am

    I’d be grateful if you could outline Obama’s “first step in health care reform”. I think “reform” may not be the right word. I believe in social justice and the defense and promotion of human dignity. I suppose there are some *hints* of that in Obama’s plan, but it’s so fraught with evil that I can’t see how “reform” is an appropriate word. I’ve heard the word “over-haul” a lot. That may be more apropos.

    Obama’s plan is also completely unsustainable, economically speaking.

    • Mark Gordon permalink
      July 19, 2012 8:52 am

      For decades the bishops of the United States have called for universal access to healthcare. If the ACA had included formal language banning any expenditures on abortion services – something that did not exist in the Massachusetts plan on which the ACA was based – the bishops would have supported it because it does extend healthcare to all Americans. As it is, the President did address that concern in an executive order, which was sufficient to gain the support of the Catholic Health Association and several pro-life Catholic congressmen. In context, although the ACA was far from perfect, it did indeed constitute a “first step in healthcare reform.”

      If you’re talking about the HHS mandate, that wasn’t a statutory requirement of the ACA. It was a policy decision by the Obama Administration, and one that could very easily be changed. Frankly, I think the onus is on you to outline exactly how the ACA is “fraught with evil.” That’s the ridiculous language of Limbaugh, Beck, and the rest of the unhinged right-wing.

      • Willem S permalink
        July 19, 2012 9:24 am

        Obama’s plan passed in opposition to the will of the American people, and even in opposition to the will of members of his own party. (I’m thinking Bart Stupak here.) I think the 2010 elections demonstrated that fact. That’s enough to call it “evil” to me. It’s also economically unsustainable, regardless of whether we postulate that the USCCB would have support it. Passing sweeping policy based on money that doesn’t exist…should we call that virtuous?

        The only exposure to Limbaugh and Beck I have is indirect and most of the time I dismiss what I hear. I did generally agree with Limbaugh on the Sandra Fluke business, but not his word choice. Beck is a mercenary alarmist.

        Stereotyping is weak.

        • Mark Gordon permalink
          July 19, 2012 11:21 am

          Bart Stupak voted for the ACA. Get your facts right. And the fact that the GOP dominated the 2010 mid-terms is evidence that the ACA specifically was “evil?” Where the hell does that come from? The party out of the White House usually picks up seats in the mid-term. You have no basis for saying that the ACA is “fraught with evil,” so you’re making things up. And by the way, it’s not economically unsustainable, any more than Romneycare has been economically unsustainable in Massachusetts, where healthcare reform was also passed despite widespread popular displeasure.

          But look, I get it that as a Catholic with a conscience you have to tell yourself something to justify your vote for Romney. Catholics on the other side use the same pretzel logic to justify their votes for Obama.

        • July 19, 2012 11:42 pm

          Obama’s plan passed in opposition to the will of the American people, and even in opposition to the will of members of his own party.

          Supposing the ACA had passed muster 100% with the Catholic bishops, and was a perfect match for everything you think a healthcare plan should be, but that it was “passed in opposition to the will of the American people”. Would it still, ipso facto, be evil? I mean, it’s arguable that the all kinds of things that in the long run we believe are right were passed against the will of the majority of the American people at the time (e.g. the Civil Rights Act); and though most of us now disagree with it, Prohibition probably had majority support when it passed. So the fact that the “will of the American people” is against something is sufficient to make it “evil”?

          Other aspects of the ACA may or may not render it “evil”; but I’m not sure how most people or a majority of the people or even a whole lot of people not liking it makes it so.

  2. Carl Diederichs permalink
    July 19, 2012 7:57 am

    I think if you were poor and marginalized in the richest society in the world, it might be easier to vote for Obama. I also am deeply concerned about the amount of death that has been wrought by Obama. Can we really think that the other guy would do less of this? Not if language matters.

  3. July 19, 2012 8:16 am

    I don’t know–if a few dozen politicians got skinned alive, it might be a good start…. ;)

  4. Ronald King permalink
    July 19, 2012 8:51 am

    I have been around now for 65 years and am convinced that only radical love will change anything. Radical politics is opposed to radical love, the former divides and the latter unites. The political environment appears to be one of violent rhetoric in a struggle for power. Nothing has changed here. History was changed when Obama was elected, then the hateful rhetoric became even more intense. In my opinion, we have become more afraid and paranoid than during the cold war. It appears to me that when the obvious threat of communism was weakened it did nothing to allay our fears because our human identities are built on fear and fear will be watchful for endless sources of threat. It is like we all exist with a transgeneraltional diagnosis of post traumatic stress and one of our most influential symptoms is hypervigilance which in essence contaminates every social relationship we have.

    • July 19, 2012 10:28 am

      I’ve been around for 74 years now and I agree completely. The only hope is to replace fear with love. And you can’t do that simply by voting. But I do vote, because I believe that is every citizen’s responsibility in a democracy. And I’ll be voting for Obama once again, despite deep disappointments in his governance. The alternative is worse–far worse–in my opinion. Rarely if ever are we given the luxury of voting for candidates we agree with in every respect. If we don’t vote we allow ourselves to be governed by others, many of whom do not share our values.

  5. July 19, 2012 9:21 am

    One question – why do you emphasize Obama’s power to assassinate American citizens? Is this somehow worse than assassinating others? I think not.

    • Smith permalink
      July 19, 2012 9:46 am

      I agree with Morning Minion that there is no objective difference in the worth of Human life, but I think the original post means something different.

      Every State has a sovereign responsibility for its own citizens. This responsibility is primary over citizens of other states (which does not mean they are not morally exempt from providing aid when needed). The sad reality is Obama will assassinate those who are directly under sovereignty, those he is charged to care. This includes upholding justice, and playing judge and jury to assassinate your own is not just.

    • July 19, 2012 9:52 am

      Morally-speaking, it’s not, but it is nonetheless an expansion of power. States often (but not always) grant or recognize the rights of their citizens to a greater extent than those of others. In some ways, this makes sense. Citizens have at least implicitly signed the social contract. Citizens of the U.S. once had the right to due process before being subjected to the death penalty–or at least the semblance of this right. U.S. citizens accused of terrorism no longer have this guarantee.

  6. July 19, 2012 12:38 pm

    I intend to vote in November. People of of good do differ on political partisanship; however, to promote apathy because we are not on the same page politically, in my opinion is shameful arrogance of ego.

    Voting is a privilege for me, and something I am daily thankful for. Perhaps if you came from communities in this country that not only struggle to get their rights, but count on the electoral process to do that you would have a deeper appreciation. For some voting is not only a privilege, but a tool to broaden the issue of human rights.

  7. Kurt permalink
    July 19, 2012 1:48 pm

    The only time I voted for a candidate that I totally agreed with was when I voted for myself. And by my third term, even that wasn’t true.”

    — Barney Frank

  8. July 19, 2012 4:44 pm

    I have my mind made up, but I don’t really care to persuade anyone on the matter. For that matter, I don’t care to be persuaded. I do think the election presents a necessary choice. I think people tend to overstate the consequences of that choice. However I don’t believe it is an insignificant choice. As I said, I think voting is a necessary and proper thing.

    I had a sense the blog was going to be quieter about this election, and I’m being proven correct. Many of the past contributors, including me, had stopped being Republicans over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those conflicts are in their dénouement and likewise the intensity of the political coverage is as well.

  9. July 19, 2012 5:04 pm

    I have been apathetic about politics for years. Usually I still vote, but I just pick the anti-abortion candidate (or if you insist, the one who claims to be anti-abortion, which is the bare minimum I require). I have found that following politics and analyzing it and arguing with people about it, while costing a great deal of time, stress and anger, has made no difference in political outcomes whatsoever during my lifetime. So I decided to save myself the stress.

  10. Antonio C permalink
    July 19, 2012 11:09 pm

    There is an easy solution for political apathy: join a lost-cause campaign. They are less influential, but far more entertaining the main-stream campaigns. (As exemplified by The Rent is Too Damn High Party.) While this might not accomplish anything, it will be entertaining. If you can, join a campaign full of crazies and change their goal to world domination. The fun is never-ending.

  11. Willem S permalink
    July 21, 2012 5:12 pm

    Mark, reading your comment, to which I cannot directly reply for some reason, and wondering where I said I was voting for Romney. I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t say I was Catholic either.

    A semantics hangup doesn’t guarantee correct interpretation of word usage.

    Stupak was strong-armed into voting for Obama’s plan. Check your facts.

    I hope Kyle will honor my original request when he gets time.

  12. July 23, 2012 8:58 am

    Hold your nose and vote for Obama, so that the United States does not permit Israel to initiate a third war in the Middle East–or, at least, so that the U.S. does not participate in it. Also, please read the very long article in The New York Review of Books about how Obama has been extremely sparing in this use of “counter-terrorism” tactics, and has made himself–and, by extension, every future President, directly responsible for these terrible decisions, and so that his successors will not be able to deflect the responsibility unto some subordinate in the bureaucracy. I do not agree at all with Obama’s flouting of the Constitution in this regard,but his personal intervention in each and every case is an exercise of ethical decision-making in at least an existential sense. After he is gone there will be less of a precedent for a future President to say that this is normal, commonplace exercise of an executive prerogative than I had previously thought. Obama is a weak, largely failed President, true, but the alternative being offered by the Republicans is far, far worse.

  13. July 23, 2012 12:19 pm

    Oh, and for those of you who say that abortion is your “single issue” standard for voting, and that you have no choice but to vote for the candidate who is, at least nominally, opposed to abortion, FIX YOUR EYES ON THE LAST SENTENCE of Andrew Sullivan’s blog about Romney’s lies regarding “conflict of interesr.”.

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