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What is politics?

Well that depends on who you ask.   A quick skim of Aristotle provides the definition of “the most sovereign and most comprehensive master science,” which is highly unhelpful as a working definition for a blog post.

So bear with me while we go through this.   Let’s say that a politician is an individual whose aim in life is to help their people.  What are they helping their people to do? Well, we could say that they are helping their people to live good lives. By good of course I don’t just mean economically prosperous; I mean really happy lives.  The politician seeks to realize their constituency at their greatest potential, to give their people the greatest possible chance to soar at their highest height.

So what is politics?

Well, in that case, politics is I suppose the art and science of raising one’s people up.  After all, the practice of a politician, I just said, was to help their people realize their full potential.

Now there we will sit our definition for the remainder of this blog post.

So what should a politician do?

A politician should represent their people.  They should have always the best interests of their constituency in mind.

Do you know what a politician should not do?

Lie.

There is this widespread delusion among the people of the world that a politician is someone deceptive, someone who will trick and deceive and yes, lie to advance their own personal motives.

No.

Just no.

A people’s motives and needs are never ambiguous.  The better course for a nation is rarely hard to discern, if you look for it—people spend their entire career learning how to figure out things like economics, international policies, and immigration procedures, and among all these experts there is a more or less general consensus about what would be good.

And just as the zeitgeist is never ambiguous, so too should the politician be honest and open.  Perhaps, perhaps, maybe, with an enemy, with a foreign power against whom the country is fighting, but not to allies and never to the citizens.

A politician must be honest about their aims, must have a clear vision of how they will best support their people.  If they lie, if they conceal, if they have any need at all of subterfuge, then it’s quite simple: they don’t deserve to represent the polis.

Americans, as a whole, do not expect their political system to aid them.

We take a semi-liberal viewpoint.  We hope that the government stays out of our way, because we want to go about our business and the government pretty much poisons whatever it touches.

But that’s not good.

Our world has become increasingly cynical.

We expect our government wants to control us.

We expect our politicians to lie and cheat and blackmail and take money from anyone.

We know and expect that elections can be bought by anyone with enough cash.

Most of us are fully aware that we’re killing the planet and that no one is likely to do something unless we all do. And we’re not really doing much about it.

People die in the millions thanks to car crashes.

Slavery is still a thing.

There is poison in our lunch meat.

We’re all aware of these things. We take them for granted.

And…that’s not cool.

THERE SHOULDN’T BE POISON IN YOUR FOOD.

YOU PUT THAT SHIT IN YOUR FACE.

LIST OF PLACES THERE SHOULDN’T BE POISON: NUMBER ONE:  

IN.

YOUR.

FACE.

 

Politicians shouldn’t LIE TO YOU ABOUT ANYTHING THEY LIKE.  If they lie to you, GUESS WHAT, it’s TIME TO GET A NEW POLITICIAN.   

There’s a psychological phenomenon known as the Bystander Effect.  When something bad happens in a crowd, the members of the crowd assume en masse that someone else will take care of it.

This is the reason people get knifed in broad daylight.  Why people get kidnapped in the middle of a crowd.  Because it’s someone else’s problem, and anyway it’s just part of modern society.

Except…it’s really not.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you have no context at all in which to evaluate the following country.

A country where leaders lie, corporations kill for money, and people do nothing.  A country where the likeliest destination for a troubled youth is in a for-profit penitentiary.  A country that is slowly squeezing the planet for resources and belching pollution into the sky.

That sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Would you want to live there? I know I don’t.

And that’s why I write blog posts and get angry about politics.  Because I do live here, in a nation that is all of the things I have listed, a nation that could be so much more, and I am struck every day by the overwhelming conviction that things are not as they should be.

I don’t care what you do.  No one has any right to regulate your actions, so long as you’re not going out and murdering people for sport.

But can’t you agree that there’s something wrong when all of the below citations are true?

And couldn’t you concede that there’s something you might be able to do?

These are huge problems, but they don’t have huge solutions. The answer is in the little things. Buckling a seatbelt and turning off the phone.  Buying fair trade and organic.  Demanding more responsibility from your politicians.

And stopping once in a while to lend a stranger a hand.

Because these are problems that affect us all, and it’s nice to have a reminder, once in a while, that we’re not alone.

And if these things piss you off as much as they do me, well…you’re not alone either.  There are profoundly decent people in the world, just as outraged as we are…some of whom are in a position to do something about it.

CITATIONS:

Distrust of government:

[2011 article documenting a point at which Congressional approval reached 9%.  As in, 9% of Americans think Congress is capable of legislating.]

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/us/politics/poll-finds-anxiety-on-the-economy-fuels-volatility-in-the-2012-race.html

Environmental Apathy:

[the more you know…the less you’re likely to do.]

http://128.138.136.233/students/envs_4800/kellstedt_etal_2008.pdf

Automotive Deaths:

[Just statistics. So many statistics. Average in 2009 was 93 people per day]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

Slavery:

[this website is big because so is its problem.]

http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/toc.htm

Dangerous compounds in food:

[some of these have been banned in many countries…but usually not the United States. Woo! Free market!]

http://www.purezing.com/living/toxins/living_toxins_dangerousingredients.html

Statistics on domestic violence:

[now this just pisses me off]

http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/domestic-violence-statistics/

Growing partisanship:

[oh, right, it’s not just your cookies. Everything isgetting more partisan.]

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jun/04/news/la-pn-pew-partisan-divide-poll-20120604

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for the reminder. We need reminders of this every day. Now, what are you doing towards correcting these problems?


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  1. […] So. I recently read a blog post about not standing by while the world screws itself up (also how politicians shouldn’t be […]

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