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?

  • Alicia

    My family also faces the uncertainty of no health insurance if the HHS mandate goes through. But we have also faced no health insurance as over and over again my husband was let go from jobs as his employers would down-size. It is especially hard to embrace Church teaching in these life circumstances, but I salute you for your faith – I know I have grown in painful ways in the face of my own family’s challenges.

  • Sally

    I meant not understanding in a facetious manner and I guess I am rude and don’t have to read contrary religious beliefs but it intrigues me and always has.

    Right, Ted. I am a protestant (Episcopalian) gasp! and in my more than 7 decades on this earth I have never been exposed to the thinking that God has been in my bedroom during intimate moments. Amazing. I suppose that in adhering to the proposition that God is everywhere, and always with you , one could think that but wow!

    • http://bettyduffy.blogspot.com Betty Duffy

      Hey Sally,
      I think I get the perspective from which you’re coming. I just think it’s interesting, that it’s usually pro-choice people who are saying things like “my sex life is none of your business.” And “keep your personal (and/or religious) beliefs out of my womb.” But as an outside observer here, I couldn’t help noticing that you just got way up in Calah’s business. Her sex life, the number of children she has, how she spreads herself among her other children–it’s really not your concern.

      Also, helpful comments after one of our sisters has just given birth usually run along the lines of, “Can I bring you dinner?” or “Do you have everything you need for the baby?” Rather than, “Why don’t you consider contracepting or aborting future family members out of existence if you’re so poor?”

    • Ted Seeber

      Given the stereotype Episcopalian has (Catholic Lite! 1/3rd Less Guilt than that Other Religion!) of being the religion of the rich, and the general hatred the rich show for the poor and disabled in America (Kill off your children! You’re UNFIT!), I guess I understand where you’re coming from. But try to understand- from our perspective, you’re a heretic from a sect that started in the sexual sin of King Henry VIII (What? My wife keeps giving birth to daughters? Off with her head!) and thus everything you have to say on the topic, is damaged by that false theology.

      • Jessica

        Ted…not sure what the point is of calling Sally a heretic (which isn’t true, unless she was baptized Catholic and is trying to pass off Episcopalian as true Catholic doctrine) and discounting everything she says. Do you think your comments will help Sally better understand/appreciate Catholicism?
        Sally, while Calah does honestly admit to her struggles and difficulties, her blog also talks about the beauty of the Catholic position on life and sexuality. Every action we do either leads us closer to or farther away from God, and intentionally taking away the life-giving qualities of sex by using birth control is an action that leads us farther away from God. Moreover, by respecting the essential qualities of sex, Catholic theology is able to develop a much more coherent theology of respect for life in all its forms — from conception to natural death.
        I’m glad you’re reading this blog and trying to understand how Catholics think. :)

        • Ted Seeber

          “Do you think your comments will help Sally better understand/appreciate Catholicism?”

          I think as long as she holds onto the lies of Henry VIII and Malthus, that those lies will prevent her from understanding OR appreciating Catholicism. And to be exact, which I wasn’t (Mea Culpa!) I was calling Henry VIII the heretic, which he most certainly was.

          Those lies are pervasive in America and the United Kingdoms. So pervasive that they take the lives of millions of human beings EVERY YEAR. Are you saying there is no sin in supporting such a culture of death?

  • http://grace-filled.net jen

    Regardless of whoever wins, God is sovereign in all these things. Focus on the Family produced a letter in 2008 about how horrific 2012 would be if Obama won. Someone recently listed everything in that letter and how it hadn’t come true. Our government works in such a way that neither candidate can do all the horrific things that the other side is claiming that they’ll do.

    Just hang in there and don’t give in to the fear. I survived Bush. You’ll survive Obama.

    • Ted Seeber

      Obama ended up doing worse- Secret Tuesday Kill Lists. I have no doubt that Romney will continue the practice if he’s elected.

      Expect a lot of enemies of the throne to have houses “hit by lightning” in the next few years.

      • http://www.grace-filled.net jen

        Somehow I fail to see the correlation between taking out Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists and taking out random Americans. I mean, Bush 2.0 did the same thing. The only difference is that he failed to get Bin Laden.

        • Ted Seeber

          Don’t forget- Pro-lifers and Union Activists (enemies to both candidates) have been labeled as terrorists in the past by the Department of Justice. And they’ve already attacked Muslims who are American Citizens, both domestic and foreign.

  • Charlene

    Hey Calah, Thank you for sharing so honestly in your blog! I’ve been following for several months, and it’s always a breath of freak air and good laughter. We just lost our employee sponsored health insurance, in favor of Samaritan Ministries. It’s a crazy idea, but many of our friends use it and have nothing but wonderful things to say. I’d encourage you guys to check it out as you’re looking at options. There’s also a Catholic version in the works: Solidarity Healthshare (I think?). It has the support of our bishops, and might be a resource to many dioceses and universities affected by the HHS mandate.

    • Theresa

      Charlene, thank you for mentioning the Health Share option. Here is the website: http://solidarityhealthshare.com/ I had never heard of this before, but I’m definitely going to be looking into this option. :)

  • Charlene

    aaahahaha, that should read ”fresh air” not ”freak air”. oh, my apologies.

  • http://roughplacesplain.tumblr.com/ nancyo

    I feel exactly the same sense of despair at our political situation (last night’s debate depressed me no end), and am weary of the comments I see on Facebook and Twitter. But. At the same time I keep seeing signs and messages – everywhere – that indicate that I need to focus on joy. It is going to be harder for me than hand-wringing (my natural reaction) but it seems that living our Catholic faith with joy will provide the attractive witness to the truth that doesn’t happen with bitterness. Of course, discerning it and living it are two different things, but in this almost hopeless election season, I’m clinging to joy.

  • MeggieE

    Wow Calah, How did you get in my brain and write exactly how I feel!? I hate this election and basically have no hope for the next 4 years. I think its our generation. We were raised in the 80s and 90s when things were wonderful and life was full of promise. Then when we grew up this is what they gave us. I think most people our age continuously hope for a candidate who will fulfill our hopes and dreams (care for the poor, humane immigration reform, and an end to abortion…is that too much to ask?) and then are always disappointed. Then with a poor economy to boot! Somebody come save us!

  • http://smoochagator.wordpress.com Smoochagator

    At times like this I am comforted by what my mom has said about the election: No matter who wins, God is still on the throne. People on both sides are making November 6 out to be the HISTORIC DEFINING MOMENT OF OUR GENERATION and if our candidate doesn’t win AMERICA WILL DIIIIIEEEEEE!!!!1! but I don’t honestly believe that. I believe that no matter what happens we’ll all be okay in the grand, overarching sense of okay. Bad economy, bad morals, bad people all around – but in the end, it’s gonna be okay. (Think of that scene in Reservoir Dogs with Harvey Keitel and the recently-shot-pretty-much-dying Tim Roth.) This is the same attitude that helps me knuckle down and get through personal crises as well: that it all shakes out in the end. Perhaps I am a naive optimist, but I kind of like to think that even in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, I’ll figure a way out. So will you.

    • Ted Seeber

      America is dead either way. So I can’t get worked up about this.

  • Sally

    Hi Calah:

    I certainly did not intend for this to become a harsh word session between me and other posters. I enjoy your witty writing and wish you and your recovery well.


  • calahalexander

    Whoa. I’m not ignoring everyone, I stopped receiving notifications and had NO IDEA anyone was commenting on this post. I’m kind of in shock at all these comments, but it’s late so I’ll respond tomorrow. You’re all awesome. Even you, Sally. ;)