Why I’m Giving Up Politics for Lent

Image: Flickr Creative Commons, Asoka G M

By Jeff Fulmer

Okay, this is an easy one. I was getting tired of all the polling and endless speculating before the 2012 elections. Two days after President Obama was re-elected, the Republicans were threatening to run us off the fiscal cliff and were still trying to find a cover-up in Benghazi. It’s draining and, frankly, I’m bored with the same old arguments that bounce around the media echo-chamber by the same old talking heads. I feel like I’m watching one long rerun. So I’ve decided to give up politics for Lent. (Just in case you think I’m getting off easy, I’m also giving up eating chips.)

It’s not that there aren’t important issues that are being decided, such as how to reduce the national deficit, how to create more jobs for more people, instilling reasonable gun control laws, and reducing carbon emissions. The list goes on and on. I’m just not sure I have the wherewithal to stay emotionally connected with the outcomes, much less all the political wrangling to get there. Basically, I trust the guy in the Oval Office. I think he’s a reasonable person who is willing to compromise for the greater good. Maybe, sometimes, too willing to compromise.

Besides being weary of the rhetoric, I’d like to think I’m abstaining from politics because I have better things to do with my time and emotional energy. For example, I’ve got a job that requires some attention. I sell residential real estate and the market is starting to come back. As most of you know, I like to write and I’ve been editing a couple of projects that I hope to put out there someday soon. I started volunteering as a counselor at a food pantry/emergency relief center in our area. On top of that, I try to walk my dog and have dinner with my wife and occasionally get to the gym.

My point is I feel like I need concentrate on myself and my immediate circle. It’s not as exciting as the stuff that makes national news, but it’s real to me. I like to think I deeply care about this country – and this world for that matter. At the same time, I feel somewhat disconnected from immigration reform or budget debates. While being aware of the issues is important for a healthy functioning democracy, I cannot lower the deficit, or provide someone with a work visa, or put a background check in place for a person purchasing a gun. I can have an opinion (and a vote), but that’s about it.

I used to live in Texas when I was a kid, so I grew up being a Dallas Cowboys fan. All these years later, I still pull for the Cowboys.

Sometimes, I pull so hard I actually pull something. And then it occurred to me: I can’t change the outcome of the game one iota, especially not from my couch in Tennessee. So, what’s the point in being so emotionally invested? Of course, politics has much more serious ramifications than a football game. The policies and laws can affect millions of people, for good or bad. And, it’s important for the media to referee the game and keep us informed of the score.

At the same time, I feel an overwhelming need to refocus my energies on me. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish. I don’t think I mean it that way. Let me try again… I need to focus my energies on the things that I can control and the people that I know. The good news is, if I want to get something done, I don’t have to scrape together the votes or wait out a filibuster. There is no one who can stop me, because I have executive privilege of my own life. And that’s pretty empowering. The only question is – what to do with all this power?

Jeff Fulmer lives in Nashville, TN, and is the author of the book, “Hometown Prophet.” 


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