Dispirited About Politics

Well, I see I haven’t written a post in over a week. I’ve started a few, and yet I can’t seem to push myself to finish one. So, I’m just going to sit here with my coffee and not do anything else until I hit that button that says publish.

It’s not for lack of ideas. I wish I could explain. I just feel so impotent when it comes to expressing them, and I feel so buffeted one way, and then another, flitting from subject to subject.

Since the last election I’ve felt so dispirited. All along, I believed that the extreme radical right wing couldn’t ever get very far. That doesn’t mean that I thought that we were headed towards an endless stream of progressive victories. Still, the far, far right, the anti-science, indeed, I would say anti-American, right, couldn’t succeed outside of a few small areas. With 435 voting members in the U.S. House of Representatives you’d expect a handful to be a bit extreme. It’s more surprising from Senators. Yet the recent election leaves me feeling like I ought to do something but not actually wanting to do anything.

A year ago, I met an Australian woman who was going on over lunch about Sarah Palin. She was saying how awful and stupid she was. I found myself getting a little hot under the collar, although I didn’t say anything, because the clear implication was that Americans must be awful and stupid themselves if she was campaigning for Vice President. Then the Australian woman paused and said, “Whatever happened to her?”

I said, “She wasn’t elected.” The Australian woman didn’t really understand that Palin doesn’t have wide support.

Really, I thought these extreme right wing figures were like Sarah Palin, public clowns with no real constituency, put forward by the media because they result in a lot of page views and clicks.

Meanwhile, Libertarians like Glenn Greenwald have the left sitting home pouting over the NSA. Russell Brand tells people not to vote and to meditate their way to a revolution. The far left has been smacking Obama at every turn. They seem to be unaware of the larger context in which the President functions.

I have not doubt that Obama is much more of a centrist than I am. There are a great many issues on which I wish he had been more aggressive, economic policies favorable to the working class being chiefly among them. Yet I’m under no illusion that he had a free hand. I was reading an article on Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy and came across the following statement:

I support the president. I think the president has been right. I mean, look at the numbers, look at the job growth, sustained job growth—the greatest in American history. The. Greatest. In. American. History. Why didn’t people run on that? So you know that a bunch of political people say, ‘Well, it is not deep enough, and some people are hurting.’

Despite the fact that I like to think that I’m reasonably aware of politics, I wasn’t aware that the job growth has been that good. I knew the economy had supposedly recovered, but I also kept reading about a recovery in which only the rich had benefited. Canada didn’t play fast and easy with their banking laws and the crash didn’t hit them in the first place. However, it hit Europe. After the 2008 crash, we got a stimulus while much of Europe got austerity. Yes, I follow Paul Krugman and I’m very aware that the stimulus was not as large as many people recommended. But don’t think for a moment that the pressures that pushed many European countries towards austerity weren’t working to push the United States in the same direction, a direction which would have been disastrous according to this article in the Atlantic Monthly from 2012:

Euro zone unemployment just hit a 15-year. German unemployment just hit a 15-year. What can those of us across the Atlantic glean from this seemingly bipolar state of affairs? That austerity, every economic conservative’s favorite prescription for an ailing economy — the medicine Republicans here in the United States are pushing hard — is an utter disaster.

A disaster that the Democrats kept the United States from sharing.

It’s no secret that in the past few years the far right has widened its attacks on women’s reproductive autonomy from an opposition to abortion to objection to contraception. In the past, I’ve toyed with the idea of having a tubal ligation, but now with menopause approaching that seems like overkill. Now, with the recent elections it feels like everything we have worked for for years is up in the air. Yet, who didn’t vote? Young people! And it’s not just a women’s issue, damn it. I have a young cousin that got married and joined the army at eighteen when his girlfriend got pregnant. What, do you boys think that it’s only the girls you don’t care about that get knocked up? I hate to tell you, but it’s your steady girlfriends too. We don’t hear about that much because once a year or two has passed no one wants to admit that they didn’t want their kids and that they only married their spouse due to pregnancy. Meanwhile, the unwed mother is a walking billboard. Anyway, I want to say, “What the fuck do I care, now. It’s your life. Why am I fighting when you don’t care.”

And that’s kind of how I’m feeling about everything.

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1 comment
  1. I feel exactly the same way,and we don’t get to vote for President or Congress in Puerto Rico! Yet Federal legislation,good or bad, applies locally.
    I agree that people like Palin or Ted Cruz give America a bad name but worse than that,it distracts from debating the real issues.
    Politics, nowadays, labels people as Republicans,Democrats and independents,attaches a label to each one,and we fall for it,and like the bull we go against the labels and forget the issues. Mainstream media loves that because it makes their job easier!
    I don’t know if I make any sense,but I enjoyed your little article,empathize with you and encourage you to continue writing. I’m already a fan!
    God Bless,
    JB

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