Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Disconnected from Debates

I have a guilty confession, although you may find it strange that I feel guilt when disclosing:  I am so disconnected from this year's election.

Yes, I will still vote.  No worries there.  I know how many women struggled for so many years (centuries!) to secure this right for me.  I understand how the choices affect me.  At the very least, the president will make some Supreme Court decisions.  At the most, the president will lead us in a certain direction and make sure to get things done.

For people who think that a president doesn't matter, especially in times of divisive politics, I'd say, go read up on LBJ.  Now there was a man who knew how to get things, some good, some horrid, done.

But I've made my decisions, and I don't really feel a need to discuss them.  I'm not going to spend a lot of time on further deliberation.

Which brings me to the debates, which I have not been watching.

Part of it is that I fall asleep early these days, especially if the T.V. that we're watching is boring.  But part of it is weariness.  I'm just not interested in politics as blood sport anymore.

On some level, I don't recognize myself.  I think back to the year 2000 (12 years ago!).  I not only watched the debates, but I taped them and I made my Composition II students watch them and write analytical essays about them.  It was an Argumentative Essay writing class, so they analyzed the debates as argument.  Some of them did a good job.  Most of them seemed a bit baffled. 

In retrospect, it would have been a better assignment if I had been teaching a Speech class.  Ah, hindsight, my mother would say.

I was living the adjunct life, driving across multiple counties.  Having 3 debates that shaped my classes helped in terms of class planning.  But more than that, I felt passionately that students needed to be involved and thinking about these issues.

And now, here I am 12 years later, finding myself weary of it all.  Once I couldn't get enough.  I loved the debates and all the post-debate analysis (those written by my students and those written by the professionals). 

Of course, once I could have told you what each candidate planned to do once in office.  I felt they had concrete plans.  I don't feel that way as much this year, although it may be because of my disconnectedness.

Once I felt that candidates wanted to win, not simply for the sake of winning, but because they had dreams of how to make the country better.  I may not have agreed with those dreams, but at least I could have told you what they were.

I feel like a bad citizen.  I feel like a pale version of myself.

Or maybe it's a healthy development.  It's good to remember that it's bad to bet on one human to save us.  It's early for Advent, but I remember the words of John the Baptist:  "I am not the Messiah."  I find it comforting to say those words when my to-do list overwhelms me.

Perhaps they will be comforting now.  These men are not the messiah, no matter how much we'd like them to be our saviors. 

Just as it's unhealthy for women to expect that a handsome prince will come along to transform them and sweep them off to the palace, it's unhealthy for us to expect that politicians can save us.  We each have a significant amount of work to do in our own communities, just as those running for national office will have a significant amount to do on the national level.

So maybe my disconnected attitude is not as disastrous as I worry it might be.  I'm not disconnected from the woes of the nation, after all.

And I'm willing to be happily surprised, to be astonished out of my apathy about national politics.  I'm ready to be jolted by hope. 


Kathleen said...

I'm weary of it all, too, partly because of all the negativity, lying, and polarization/demonizing in recent years, and partly because of the loss of Camelot.

I've seen excerpts from the debates and heard enough follow-up commentary to hold me for a while. I missed last night's debate for a volleyball game, and Senior Night at the high school, which made me feel more connected to a real community anyway. Sigh...

But I will surely vote. And I'm glad YOU will!!

Beth said...

I feel almost exactly the same way - you're courageous for saying so. For me, part of it is living in Canada now, although I'll always be American. I already voted, and wouldn't think of not doing it.But one reason I moved was that I was just becoming too worn down by the constant rhetoric and arguing, with so little hope of any real change - living in America now is like living in a dysfunctional family, with all the same behaviors: lying, enabling, blaming, hopelessness, abuse, and denial. The solution for me was to remove myself, but it doesn't mean I don't care. Hmm -- sounds like I've just outlined a blog post I nee to write! Thanks for what you've written here.

Kristin said...

Thank you Kathleen and Beth. It's good to know I'm not alone.

My spouse dreams of moving too,Beth, but he eyes Caribbean islands. It certainly wouldn't solve the corruption in government issue (and would likely intensify my disgust, depending on the island), but there wouldn't be those Canadian winters!

Of course, your latest farmer's market photos, Beth, make Canada look quite appealing!

Kathleen, I think you've got the right idea about how to spend a quality evening!

Thank you both for being part of my virtual community.

Heather W. Harris said...

My view of the American presidential debates is at times filled with humor (two alpha males circling snarling, glaring, challenging in a verbal duel) to being filled with gratitude for the way we elect our leaders. A quick glance at other nations' ways of "choosing" their leaders brings my grstitude front and center in my heart. Yes, my enthusiasm for all things politic has waxed and waned over the years, but not so much as to lse sight of the great nation ww are privileged to call home.

Dr. Monika Reuter said...

I must - must - MUST - comment on Ms. Heather's comment. You say you are grateful that "we elect our leaders" but how is that possible when I have just heard in several political commentaries that even if Pres. Obama were to lose the elections, he would still be elected president because of the electoral vote ?!
WHY VOTE ??? if the popular vote is secondary to electoral vote?
WHY VOTE ??? if the President cannot get things done because Congress won't work with him?
WHY VOTE ??? if we keep on believing that America stands alone, not beholden, or responsible to the politics of other nations on this earth?
I cannot vote - I am not a citizen. But boy am I interested in what happens in this election !