Understanding Politics

I admit that I’m no fan of politics, probably because I understand it just about as well as I understand trigonometry, which means I don’t understand it at all.   If I’m in the room when two people get into a heated political argument, it takes very little time for me to be so overwhelmed by the points, counter points and accusations being flung back and forth that I just tune out.  (Which is exactly same reaction I have if someone is trying to explain trigonometry to me.)  But while I might not understand all the intricate workings of the American political system, I can’t help but notice that there are certain patterns to the way that many people deal with politics, and I thought I’d pass those along.

IMG_1144First of all, I’ve learned that words are very important.  If the candidate you like says something untrue, then he or she “misspoke.”  But if the candidate you don’t like says something untrue, then he or she “lied.”  Similarly, the candidate you like has “friends,” while the candidate you don’t like has only “cronies.”  The one word that is never uttered is “hypocrite,” for obvious reasons.

Viewpoint is also important.  If you like the current President, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on Congress.  If you don’t like the current President, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on the President.  If both the President and majority of Congress are members of the party you vote for, then everything that is wrong with our country is blamed on some other group.  At the moment, the two most popular scapegoat choices seemed to be immigrants and the rich.  (And “the rich” means anyone with more money than you.)

Constantly sharing your political opinions is considered a good thing.  Posting them daily on Facebook, working them into every casual discussion, and speaking up at family dinners with a pleasant conversation starter such as “Candidate X is a complete moron who will ruin our country” is apparently very necessary.  We all know how short attention spans are these days, so it’s best not to trust anyone to remember how we think they should vote, and why, just because we told them so yesterday.  I think this is the same rationale used by the groups that make watching TV during an election years so fun by running the exact same campaign ad five times in a row.

Finally, be sure to idolize your favorite political candidate and absolutely do not tolerate any criticism of him or her.  If someone persists in sharing facts that tarnish your idol, try name-calling.  (What worked in kindergarten can also work now. )  Better yet, distance yourself from anyone who doesn’t share your political views, no matter who they are.  You probably have more close friends and relatives than you need anyway.

Again, I am certainly no expert on politics, and am just reporting what I have observed.  There also seems to be an alternative model for being politically active, which involves simply supporting and even campaigning for the candidate of your choice without abandoning good manners or common sense.  I’m lucky enough to know several people who fall into that category.  And if I were ever forced to become more involved in politics, that’s the group I would hope to join.  Sometimes it’s good to be in the minority.

37 thoughts on “Understanding Politics

  1. Bravo! I think you know far more about politics than you give yourself credit for. 🙂 Name-calling is apparently VERY effective, given how many people use that strategy. I, too, aspire to belong to the last group you describe. Great post!

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  2. Also reminds me of one other thing people seem to forget. That being just because some has a different opinion, or perhaps disagrees with something someone else is saying does not mean they are angry or “hateful”. It simply means they have a different viewpoint. There is a quote out there that says something about how there are three things one should probably never discuss: Politics, Religion, and Money. You know, I believe that to be very true. Great post!

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    • I agree, it’s just silly when people accuse others of being “hateful” just because they disagree. It’s perfectly okay for people to disagree with each other, as long as they do it respectfully, I think. Sadly, that seems to fast be becoming a lost art.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it is. I’ve even had people tell me I’m angry if I disagree with them. I assure them I am not angry. Just discussing, but apparently I don’t know my own self because they assure me I am indeed angry. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I, like you, am in the same boat with politics and trig! I am tending to vote for the person I find most genuine and sincere and like, because I don’t know that anyone of them can or will do what they say. Not sure any of them do it “for the right reason” anymore. Great post Ann – you hit the nail on the head!

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  4. Funny! Even though I must admit, I am part of the group who thinks that the Corporate rich (not just the neighbor with a boat) are a huge part of the problem. Still, what a freakin’ mess we are in……

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is awesome. I laughed out loud when I saw the fine print on your 1913 ad. And you succinctly summed up the current political mood. I believe that’s am in the last group of politically active voters. I support, campaign for and strive to exercise a good moral tone. But……….. never mind. It would be rude to continue my next thought lol. My rebuttal to anyone who gets mad at me for supporting a different candidate (I mean really?) Is that thank God we live in a democracy and can voice our different opinions.
    Great post.

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  6. “Ollie, Ollie, Oligarch Free!”

    Come On Coleman, you didn’t think I’d pass on a post you TAGGED politics, did ya? I got interested in American politics soon after nursery rhymes, when the ability to decrypt “See Spot Run” lead to discovering Gorillas ( Guerrillas) in Cuba . I was in single digits, and delighted to find a language within a language, where words were used, in lieu of weapons, to acquire the power of governance. Such the romantic.

    And like great sex, politics can be all encompassing, etherial and earthy simultaneously, with shouts of passion and personal pleas, and promises made to be broken or renewed.

    For the few, the always engaged, it’s a public flirt with wonkish or speculative, and damn near forever, policy positions or political personality foreplay.

    But for the majority, politics is a soul crushing, hormone raging one night stand. And out of practice and patience and unable to communicate their real needs, desires, or preferences, and lacking any point of reference to slough the political peccadillos of the moment, it seldom ends well. Hence, don’t dare ask, ‘and, was it go for you,” say, right around a mid-term election.

    And what’s with the trigonometry compare, Coleman? Politics is base simple, Ann. It’s just about people being people within the fixed rubric of the predetermined rules of this Republic. A document written way before the vig of trig lead to rocket science.

    A well composed post, as usual, Ann.

    Regards,
    Doug

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Doug! Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I understand politics (at least better than I understand trig or any other advance math), but I don’t care for it very much. But to each his own! And as always, thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. As usual, great post, Ann. You’ve pretty much summed up very well what many people think. Politics in this country has become an embarrassment for its citizens and the people who are seeking office. Those who think they have studied and understand the process, speak the language and wax poetic about it are as clueless as those involved in it. Your description of words and how they are manipulated are spot on. Sometimes I just want to dig a hole and crawl into it so I don’t have to watch the train wreck it has become.

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    • Hey George, You write ” Those who think they have studied and understand the process, speak the language and wax poetic about it are as clueless as those involved in it.” You’re mostly right about that.

      And after zipping over to your post and reading your thoughts and exchanges with others concerning politics I appreciate why you feel that way. You seem to be the type of individual who doesn’t come to a decision about the motives and abilities of others until you do a lillte homework about them. That’s admirably. And you’re right to caution others about style over substance concerning politics.

      An I agree with that wholeheartedly . In fact I offered this little bit of doggerel way back in 1996;

      ” We believe it necessary, proper and immensely satisfying to dog politicians. It’s important to howl at their hypocrisy, raise a leg against their pomposity, and bark insistently if you feel they have infringed upon your turf.

      Yet, in doing so, why resort to the methods of the mongrel? Why not measure your quarry with an eye to allowing others to glimpse what has been made clear to you: that you have considered your subject from multiple points of view and that you call into question your opponent’s angle because you’ve come to appreciate where your adversary stands.

      That you do so with faith in our system, a respect for those who choose public participation, and a modicum of manners when circumstance calls for a disagreement.”

      I know. Some may argue that sentiment reeks of the rhyme, flirts with the filigree, and alienates by alliteration…but whatever floats one’s boat when it comes to discussing the course of our mighty Ship Of State. Right George?

      Regards,
      Doug

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      • Hi Doug…I don’t disagree with you at all. We’ve always viewed politics with eyes wide open, understood the game behind the game and what the process will yield.
        I suppose my frustration during the last several elections is more about what I see as a lack of the respect you speak about among those who choose public participation and how that lack of manners filters down to the general population when discussing these issues.
        We never receive answers to a question anymore. We never seem to have honest discussions about serious topics because we’re too busy dealing with rhetoric, accusations and silly finger pointing. This country is so frustrated that we’ll gravitate toward anyone who will say what we want to hear without regard to
        a candidates history of accomplishments. That’s not a knock on Trump, it’s just a general statement of fact.
        I worry that we make decisions about people for all the wrong reasons.
        For all those who have been in or studied this “game” for many years, it seems the playing field has changed and nothing is as it was so how can anyone put a finger on the pulse of what is, or should be, happening.
        It’s a crazy business, Doug and the older I get, the more I do t have the stomach for it.
        You know who I’d like to vote for? The first person who answers a series of questions honestly. But we both know answering a questions and honesty have gone out the window.
        Thanks for responding.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Appreciate the exchange, George, and again I agree in the main, but I do feel the need to defend “rhetoric” as being but a pejorative. Without words we are apt to return to the rule of weapons.

          You would agree that the very founding political documents of this nation were examples of masterful political rhetoric. Jefferson and the boys could sling it. And old Abe wasn’t bad at conjuring the better angels.

          True, “Rhetoric” can be co-opted by the scamp, scoundrel, or political grifter, and find purchase when the majority fails to understand, or appreciate the very form— the first principal, of the government and it’s direction being debated.

          With your experience, in the game, aren’t you personally shocked to find how many of your fellow citizens think they are governed by a “democracy”? And unaware of how fearful those Founding Fathers were concerning governance by majority? And a debate concerning the push and pull of a representative republic is totally at odds with the dialogue and policy prescriptions produced by a plebiscite.

          Any discussion rooted in polar opposite understandings and aspirations, can’t help but to poison any honest attempts at the rhetorical political persuasion needed to confront the present and move peacefully into a hopefully better future.

          When people fail to grasp even the base foundation and tenets of the government they abide, any political terra firma is bound to shift.

          Thanks George,

          Regards,
          Doug

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  8. I avoid discussing politics, religion, women’s rights, and any other “controversial” topics with people whom I disagree with. I have no interest in convincing anyone of anything anymore. I know and like many people for a multitude of reasons. Just because we have opposing viewpoints on one topic doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate them for the people they are (and vice versa, hopefully!) Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me, too! I have friends who have all sorts of opinions, and we often disagree, but that doesn’t mean we don’t care like and respect each other. We just realize that disagreement is a normal part of any relationship. Thanks for the kind words!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, I am pretty political, I suppose. I know who I support, who I don’t support and why I feel that way. But I also really hate rudeness, and I don’t think people are idiots just because they disagree with me. I have my fingers crossed that these last two traits stop me making too much of a nuisance of myself in polite company.

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    • Bun, I can’t imagine you being a nuisance to anyone! You definitely fall into the “minority” I talked about at the end of the post, and so do several of my friends and relatives. I think it’s great when people have strong, informed opinions about politics. I just have an issue with those who use those opinions as an excuse to be ugly towards other people. You are far too polite, kind and considerate to do that!

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  10. Not dissimilar to how people in the UK react to politics. Different system, of course, but people’s responses are the same. I avoid political posts on sites such as Facebook as people tend to leave their brain’s processing power behind . That said, there are many newspapers both paper and online ones that come out with just as much unpleasantness. I’m with you in being in the politeness camp. To my mind, rudeness achieves nothing other than more rudeness.

    As others have said, too – great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Val! And I like how you phrased that: “people tend to leave their brain’s processing power behind.” That’s a very apt description, I think. People, even those who are usually polite and thoughtful, sometimes just react in an angry, knee-jerk way when they hear or read a political opinion they don’t agree with. I’m not sure what it is about politics (and religion, for that matter) that causes that, but it sure does!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think that’s what we tend to forget about living with democracy and free speech: we aren’t the only ones who are allowed to express an opinion. And I’m glad you appreciated the satire…sometimes, we just have to laugh about it all!

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