Thursday, February 21, 2013

Politics is a pain in the ass

Last night I woke up in excruciating pain. Must have been a pinched nerve in my neck. Fortunately, I fell back asleep and woke up without that pain. But a different pain, one that came to me last night as I was sitting on the bed playing a mindless game on the laptop, still plagues me in my lower back. It seems to be worse now that I’ve been sitting at a desk for an hour and a half. Again, offices are unnatural. This is becoming a theme, I think.

I’m staring at a wall full of global celebrities, autographed photos of such dignitaries as Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Tony Blair. Senators and representatives each express their version of a smile. It’s not a normal office. This isn’t a normal industry to most people. It doesn’t feel normal to me, either.

The thing is, the politicos in Washington ARE kind of out of touch with the average American. It has more to do with the education levels of people here, I think, than any disdain for the common folk, as seems to be the view of said common folk. Washington is the most highly educated city in the country (and by educated I mean people who graduated from college, which is not the same thing as knowledgeable.) It’s just that the politicos in Washington read a lot and see it as a sort of duty to read a lot and know what’s going on in the world outside their living rooms. Maybe duty isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s routine. Yes, it’s routine. Something you don’t really think about, you just do. I don’t know if we take for granted the knowledge that everything people do affects everything about the rest of the world of if we have no comprehension of a lifestyle that doesn’t including reading newspapers and books and interacting with people who are different than we are. So we look at people who are ill-informed with bewilderment.

There’s really no excuse for being ill-informed, though. What we have in this country is willful ignorance. I would say that’s everywhere in the world except Americans have access to information that is nearly free from authoritarian control. Information is free. Education is free. We’re gradually losing that but it still holds true. Yet it feels like we produce imbecility at a rate that mimics the speed of light.

Consider this:

40% of Americans reject evolution

What’s worse is they have no concept that the President being a Christian and evolution are not things you believe in. They are reality. This is not politics. This is reality. The sky is blue on a sunny day. This is reality. This is reality. This is reality.

America built itself up as a superpower because its citizens embraced science and knowledge. That’s crumbling now because we’ve rejected those things. I don’t know why that is. I suppose historians will one day discover that television had a lot to do with it. We’re starting to see the effects of television on the human brain after studying it for generations. SPOILER ALERT: The results are not positive for television.

But I stare at those photos and I wonder if a lot of the reason the average Joe has become so ill-informed has to do with those of us whose brains are wired for the pursuit of knowledge have left the areas where we grew up. I think the Walmart culture has done much more damage to our country than we realize. Walmart and those other big box stores came in and took over entire local economies, killing small business and offering nothing more than mediocre jobs to the citizens of those towns. We had to look elsewhere. So now we spout off numbers from offices in Washington DC or New York or San Francisco that mean nothing to the person in Springfield, Ohio, and because there are fewer knowledgeable people around to discuss it with them, they turn to Fox News or nothing at all, then they blame the politicians because the politicians weren’t around to discuss it with them, either, so they didn’t learn from that person in Springfield. 

The truth is, I'm sick of politics. Yes, I know I work for a political firm.Yes, I know I have a degree in political science. Yes, I spend my days reading about the president and Congress and the moronic GOP. But I'm sick of it. If we could just value knowledge again, if we could just discard the religious nonsense that pervades our legislative process, if we could just see reality for reality...

I don’t know what to think any more. I sometimes question the wisdom of democracy. It used to be that people with mental illnesses were on the fringe, but being crazy and stupid has become mainstream. If we don’t change our attitude towards education, if we don’t get rid of standardized tests and start teaching analytical thinking again, if we don’t start paying teachers what they deserve and stop demonizing them, we’re screwed.

The sky is blue, people. The sky is blue.

No comments:

Post a Comment