Politics and Despair

Politics and Despair October 17, 2012

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?

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