So I've been thinking more about this. I still haven't really explained my political skepticism so I should put it down here. The short take away is I don't trust either party and find it tough to tell them apart ideologically.
When I was younger I used to like PJ O'Rourke's description of the difference between Democrats and Repubicans.
Democrats want you to believe the government is like the tooth fairy, it can give everyone just what they need and all we need to do is put up our used up stuff under our pillow to pay for it.
Republicans want you to believe that government doesn't work and want you to elect them to prove it.
P.J. O'Rourke (poorly paraphrased but I don't want to look it up from Parliament of Whores)
The problem is that either Politics have become more complicated, or I have.
It's me. As I've gotten older, I've revisited a few past political events. Events I used to think were correctly resolved at the time as Republican or Democratic victories. The more I revisit these events the more I find that the politics weren't very much different from what we are seeing today, but that my beliefs and my ability to see all the forces that were influencing these events have changed.
So I guess I don't feel I can say I am one or the other because when I look at what they each seem to be, the more I don't want to be either, but rather I want to be true to my own beliefs.
But what are they each about really? I mean the Republicans seem to be very good at saying they have all the ideas even though they get 'their' best work done when they work 'across the aisle'. Which seems to me the same strategy the Republicans used to complain about when the Clinton Administration was in power. Similarly the Democrats seem to be doing all they can to foil the progress that the Executive Branch is trying to make against it's own agenda. This also sounds familiar, no? So what the both parties seem to want us to know, about all the work they must be doing is, "It was really our idea, not thiers!".
So why do we spend so little time on the substance of what the parties are about ideologically? I think it's because that most of our politicians have discovered that it's easier to get everyone to get upset about the people or thier actions rather than actually be about any specific idea. Ideas are too risky I guess. They don't poll consistently and you are probably going to be wrong more often if you are talking about something that actually matters.
All this reminds me of an idea I am about to misquote:
- Most people take about other people.
- Good people talk about events.
- Great people talk about ideas.
I don't know who said that but I find it's very true. So I guess I'm not a Republican or a Democrat because, to me, neither party is talking a great deal about their "important ideas".
They are all talking about the people and occasionally about events. Occassionaly they will relate these to well polling, dumbed down and totally uninspiring ideas.
Where are the leaders to challenge our view of the world with their bold ideas about who we are, what we represent and where we are going? I guess I'll just have to find them in the people that are making a difference in the local community. Something about holding my breath and not doing it leaps to mind.