Politics and Despair

I hate this election season. I hate hearing about the debates. I hate reading posts that have anything to do with politics. I hate reading status updates about politics. I’m starting to even avoid facebook (something unheard of for me!) because I hate hearing about politics so much. For a while, I thought that it was all because of the nastiness of people over politics. I thought I was just sick of people yelling at each other, tearing each other down, and accusing each other of all manner of idiotic things over politics. But I sat down at the computer just now, all ready to write a nothing post about how my teeth hurt, when it hit me: I am sick of those things, but mostly, I have no hope in these people.

No hope. Not any…or at least, very little. If Obama gets re-elected, it’s likely that my husband will lose his job when Ave Maria shuts down because of the HHS mandate. Even if the university manages to survive and the Ogre manages to keep his job, our health insurance premiums will skyrocket, and we’re barely scraping by as it is. We’ve got piles of unpaid medical bills. A premium hike would drown us.

If Romney gets elected, I have only the very slightest bit of hope that he’ll overturn the HHS mandate. I don’t believe Obamacare will be overturned, which it ought to be. We need real health care reform, not a crappy, hastily-cobbled-together-monster that serves political special interest groups far more than the actual people of America. I don’t have much confidence that Romney will do anything to slow the tide of abortions. At best, he might be able to keep our limping economy from totally self-destructing…maybe.

The saddest part is that I really want to like Romney. Honest, I do. I saw this picture and wanted to like it, wanted to share it, wanted to feel happy about the Romneys.


I wanted to believe that they are who they say they are. But that was shouted down by a louder voice, who wryly observed that it was probably a political stunt to capture the affection of “everyday Americans” who have to do such pedestrian things as laundry.

I like Paul Ryan. I want to like him a lot more than I do, but crap like this makes me wary. A person is a person, no matter how they’re conceived. Ryan knows that. So it scares me that he would change his tune in an intense political moment. I don’t want to watch Ryan become the next Stupak, the next Nelson.

I hate that I’ve become so cynical. I wish I wasn’t. I wish I could be confident and have faith that people in politics can stand for something and can hold to their principles. But I don’t anymore. I’m tired of watching men and women in positions of power abandon their consciences, or at least what appeared to be their consciences, to curry favor and gain votes. I’m starting to see the average American’s nastiness over politics as a side-effect of the moral decay of politicians themselves. It’s not just the right; Obama made lots of promises that appealed to liberal morality (closing Guantanamo, anyone?) with no follow-through. He promised radical reform, particularly in the areas of health care and the environment, and the only thing he’s delivered is an unwieldy nightmare of a law that no one has read and that was man-handled through Congress with shady backroom deals, bribes, and threats. He promised a “new era of non-partisan politics” and then spent the next four years blaming the GOP when anything didn’t go his way. I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 because I didn’t agree with his politics, but I wasn’t crushed when he was elected. He seemed like a well-intentioned, if misguided, person. He seemed competent.  He seemed essentially decent. Now, he seems like a petulant, nasty child who doesn’t care what happens to anyone else as long as he gets his way.

When this is the caliber of the people we are forced to choose between, no wonder everyone gets upset. No wonder people get nasty. No wonder people choose to put on blinders and insist that one candidate is blameless and the other is evil incarnate. It’s a lot more attractive than the reality.

But I’m pretty sure my despair over the political situation of our country isn’t much better than willful ignorance. So my question to you, readers, is this: how do you acknowledge political realities and view candidates objectively without feeling as if it’s all hopeless? How do you bounce back from a Stupak, or if you’re liberal, how do you bounce back from an Obama? (Or if you’re liberal and you think Obama’s done a good job, insert two-faced politician of your choice here.) How do you keep going, keep hoping, and keep having faith that we can be better than we are when every politician in Washington seems hell-bent on proving you wrong?

  • Ted Seeber

    I’m eager to see other responses to this. I want SOMEBODY TO GIVE ME SOME HOPE. Because right now it feels like the end of an empire.

    The Church is the ONLY thing I have left to cling to. The major parties offer no hope, the minor parties don’t stand a chance.

    One option I suppose- should we all lose our jobs- is to just grab some BLM land in Eastern Oregon and build an Intentional Community and dare them to take it away from us.

  • Ted Seeber
  • Elizabeth Scalia

    Ted, maybe that’s the point. Maybe we’re SUPPOSED to stop putting out trust in secular “princes” and rely wholly on God. Maybe we have to get led to a very dark place so we can see and appreciate the light.

    • Ted Seeber

      Quite possibly- as another Patheos blogger wrote about this despair, try to remember that one of the last executions of the French Reign of Terror were 17 Carmelite Nuns so that the local magistrate could take their convent for other uses. That martyrdom, and the public outcry about it, created the end of an era.

  • Karen

    Calah, I agree with you on the rape and abortion issue. I used to volunteer with an organization that counseled rape survivors, and I knew a few clients who kept their children who were conceived in rape. I also knew women who aborted the children conceived in rape, because emotionally they believed they couldn’t handle bearing that child. It grieved me that they didn’t have or find the support they needed to do that.

    That said, what I heard was, Ryan is backing Romney’s stance on abortion, and Ryan is not the policy maker in the team. He’s backing Mitt because he believes Romney will overall do a better job of supporting the pro-life cause. His job as vice president is not to personally agree with all of Romney’s beliefs or policies, but to be, in a sense, his ambassador.

    At least he’s not doing the weaselly thing that Biden does. I believe in voting for the Romney-Ryan ticket I’ll be at least choosing the lesser of two evils. Sometimes it comes down to just that, sadly.

    • M Pelletier

      A priest friend told us that we are not voting for the “lesser of two evils”, but, rather, the greater good. Helps me feel better about it, somehow. I agree with what you said about Ryan…he made it sort of clear that he was spouting the party ticket, not his own personal beliefs.

      • Ted Seeber

        Can you show me the greater good? Because right now, the way I see it, the election is between murder, sexual immorality, and slavery vs oppression of the poor, removal of just wages, and slavery. I don’t see the greater good being embodied by the American government. I just don’t.

  • Katie

    My opinion is that we’re at a point in the cycle where we as a country are reaping what we’ve sown. The political class (those elected to serve and those nominated to hold offices in the 3-letter bureaucracies) comes almost entirely from the general population of our States. Based on this reasoning, I can consider the political class representative of US (not the U.S., US = people).
    If I continue with that assumption, I can safely say that the culture, the behaviors, the mentality and morality of our country is not what I would prefer to select my representatives from.
    Bottom line for me: the political class won’t change until its source changes. I’m clinging to my faith, and praying for the grace to LIVE my faith until God calls me home.

  • Fiestamom

    I hope this doesn’t sound mean, but frankly, I’m tired of people/bloggers who are saying a ‘pox on both their houses’. Tis is the choice we have now. I was never crazy about Romney, but he claims he’s going to repeal Obamacare, so I’m going to trust him on it.. (if only because I would hope that the DC insiders are afraid of the revolt that would occur if they don’t). Romney and Obama are fallible men who make mistakes. At least Romney’s voters are just voters, not devoted ‘followers’.

    I admit that before 2008, I was an American first, a Catholic second. Obama’s victory changed me, it scared me into taking my Catholic faith very seriously. I’m not happy that Romney is pro choice, but if all he does is repeal Obamacare, it’s a victory for religious liberty, any!! liberty. George,Bush tried to nominate Harriet Miers and the grassroots backlash was major, and we got Alito. Romney is like any politician, he wants to be re elected, so we will have to stay vigilant. And most of all, pray for our leaders, and our country.

    • Ted Seeber

      “I was never crazy about Romney, but he claims he’s going to repeal Obamacare, so I’m going to trust him on it.. (if only because I would hope that the DC insiders are afraid of the revolt that would occur if they don’t).”

      Dancing with the Stars (or some other equally insipid TV) takes care of the revolt problem. And at this point, I can’t trust anything either Mr. Etch-a-Sketch or Uncle Tom Obama have to say. Their past actions speak for their real Character- and that embodies all 5 of the Sins that Cry Out To Heaven For Vengeance.

      Give me some hope! Because right now- I see the drones attacking the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception or the drones attacking the National Labor Relations Board, and not much else.

  • Tom

    Regarding Ryan and abortion, he’s stated in the past that he is pro-life in all situations, and wants that reflected legally; he’s Romney’s Vice Presidential candidate, however, and is therefore stuck with the rape-and-incest exception. During the debate, he always careful to say that it was “the Romeny administration’s” position rather than “my” position.

    Romney has also found his own way to get around the presumable inability to repeal Obamacare by exempting all fifty states from having to enact it. Of course, the doubt over whether he’d actually do that remains.

    About liking Romney, there are plenty of stories out there about Romney’s nearly unlimited personal charity and kindness, like the story Ryan told of his offering to pay for acquaintances’ children’s college after they fell on hard times (I believe the father had cancer). When another acquaintance’s child went missing, he also organized a search effort and when a child was diagnosed with a terminal disease, he befriended him and helped him plan his will.

    In a general sense, I think it’s in some cases a myth that politics is so much worse now than it was then. In the 1828 elections, John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson savaged each other. Jackson accused Adams of being a pimp for the Czar of Russia (he gets creativity points at least), and Jackson’s wife was driven into a depression by accusations that she was a bigamist. Jackson sent troops to South Carolina during his presidency and expressed regret that he didn’t have his Vice President and his biggest political opponent executed. During the “Golden Age of Civility” Lyndon Johnson all but stated “If you elect Barry Goldwater, we will all die in a nuclear war with Russia,” and was elected by an overwhelming margin. Four years later, at the Democratic Convention (where there was rioting in the streets), Gore Vidal and Bill Buckley, intellectual leading lights of their movements, got into an argument that culminated in Vidal calling Buckley a crypto-Nazi, and Buckley calling Vidal a queer and threatening to “sock you in the G-ddammned face”. There was also the period where our differences were so severe that we killed a half million of each other.

    I’ve also gotten rather good at not letting people with differing opinions really get to me, as I ate lunch for much of last year with left-wing atheists and one of my closest associates is a Ron Paul fanatic that can and will relate Ron Paul to whatever is going on.

    • Karen

      One of the reasons Romney has grown on me is that he does not go around telling those stories about his charity and helpfulness. The stories come from other people–we are not to do good deeds and then go around crowing about them in order to heap praise upon ourselves. One feels that if Obama delivered a meal to a family fighting cancer, he’d send out a press release.

  • M Pelletier

    It’s important to remember that hope is a virtue, too.

    • Ted Seeber

      It’s a virtue I am lacking in. Kind of like Piety. Or empathy.

  • Sally

    Enjoy your writing style and most content. As a long time recovering alcholic I am sensitive to your addiction story also. What I absolutely cannot understand is all the children at your young age and if you’re having trouble “making” it why the complete disregard for birth control. Do you honestly believe that God really cares about the number and frequencies of your children? Don’t you understand how irresponsible it is to keep flooding the population and irresponsible to your other children?
    It is difficult for me to understand/accept what you allege to be the Catholic Church’s position on abortion also. Doesn’t the person who chooses abortion have to answer only to God? Why is your opinion (and pro-lifers) anyone else’s business?

    These are all rhetorical comments.


    • Ted Seeber

      Sally, it’s obvious you are either uncatechized or not Catholic. I’ll assume the later, let me know if it is the former and I’ll try again.

      You raise several points that I’ve been thinking about lately, so while I hope Caleh will also answer you, with a new baby in the house she might not get around to it real soon, and thus I’d like to take a stab at your questions from a Catholic theological standpoint:

      1. ” Do you honestly believe that God really cares about the number and frequencies of your children? ”

      For the faithful Catholic, God is the third person in the room when we’re having sex. It’s God that controls what gender the child will be, God that controls whether we conceive or not. God is in control of the number and frequency of children in our marriages, and who are we to question His Divine Will in this matter?

      2. “Don’t you understand how irresponsible it is to keep flooding the population and irresponsible to your other children?”

      Ah, I see you’re a Malthusian. Too bad he’s scientifically WRONG. PerSquareMile.com did an expose on this- it isn’t the number of people in the world, it’s the irresponsible high standard of living taken by the rich. What did the poor ever do to you that you want to exterminate them?

      3: “Doesn’t the person who chooses abortion have to answer only to God?”

      I know it’s probably hard for a Malthusian like you to accept, but with 54 million killed in the genocide you are supporting, you need to hear it. American economics is based on a growing population. Your social security is counting on there being 5 people working and paying taxes when you retire. Guess what? That number is already down to 2 people working, and is about to take a severe drop off. YOUR RETIREMENT IS DIRECTLY TIED TO THE BIRTH RATE- which has been below replacement rate for 40 years now (US Population only grows by Immigration from the third world- and their birth rates are dropping drastically too).

      4. “Why is your opinion (and pro-lifers) anyone else’s business?”

      Because they are facts, unlike your final point:
      “These are all rhetorical comments.”

      No they’re not, they’re lies based on Malthusian philosophy.

    • http://geeklady.wordpress.com GeekLady

      Sally, you not understanding is no excuse to be rude.

    • Ted Seeber

      It just occurred to me that my post would have been MUCH better with links:
      http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/2012/09/best-explanation-of-overpopulation-ever.html – my own blog post about Per Square Mile’s “If people lived like they do in Uganda, we’d have plenty of land” post.

      And if my assumption is incorrect and Sally is just a very uninformed Catholic:

  • http://geeklady.wordpress.com GeekLady

    This is mostly how I feel about this election, with the addition of wandering through my day in an intense state of rage. I just want to box all their ears, and if I hear any more about the war on women… Well!

    I never expected to have any hope in politicians. They’re just politicians, after all. But at this point, I can’t even acknowledge their humanity, and that kind of cynical loathing wounds myself in turn. I know how to behave better than this, but I’m just so damn tired of it all…