Monday, November 3, 2008

It's not all about you

On the eve of such a crucial election, I thought of asking why politics have become so divisive lately, but that assumes that politics have never been as divisive as they are now.

Sure, politics might appear to be more controversial now than they were when I was little, but I think that’s because I wasn’t aware of how high the stakes were back then. Can I take even a cursory look at history and say with a straight face that politics were bland and inoffensive in, say, the 1960s? Nope.

Politics have always divided people, but I think it’s fair to talk about one reason why they are so divisive now—the tendency of people to put personal, short-term interests ahead of what’s good for themselves, and the nation, in the long run.

If you ask someone why they insist on voting for Neanderthals (apologies to the Geico cavemen) who would destroy civil liberties and thrust the country back into the dark ages, the answer usually has something to do with taxes. Mr. Fascist Thug said he’d give me a tax break, while Mr. Progressive Liberal wants to give all my money to illegal immigrants. Given the vehemence with which this litany is delivered, you’d think that electing the wingnut would somehow end all taxes overnight.

Get real. Taxes exist. They aren’t going away. And if you want lower taxes, you may want to ask why $500 billion has gone toward a war that has benefitted nobody but Halliburton, while a similar amount is going to bail out failed corporations.

Then there are people who are screaming liberals on every other issue, but always vote Republican because they’re afraid that the government will take away that $20 peashooter that they fired once on New Year’s Eve. Hey, the Second Amendment is important, dammit! Who knows when you might need an AK-47 to keep those trick-or-treaters at bay?

In this election (and all others), it’s important to think about what issues are truly important, not just to you, but to the world.

For example, one of my voting issues is abortion rights. Why does a woman’s right to choose matter to me? I’m not a woman. My wife’s kids are grown. Abortion is not directly an issue to either of us in our daily lives. But the abortion issue matters to me on principle. If you don’t have the right to your own body, what rights do you have?

My Sitemeter tells me there’s not much traffic here, except from people who want to find out what a luleelurah is. So I may be talking to the wind here, but I felt like I had to do it anyhow.

I won’t tell you who to vote for (although you can probably guess). Just remember, when you enter the voting booth, that it’s not all about you.

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