October 1, 2007

To blog or not to blog.... and my temporary political apathy


I must say, there are some days where I just flat out could not care less about politics. I look at all of the different politicians and candidates and I wonder if it is really worth the effort of getting to know about the various candidates and their views simply to mark a few boxes on a ballot next election year.

I was one of those kids who always enjoyed knowing about politics. My mom worked for a state senator, taught high school government, and has campaigned since before I was born. Growing up in my household, it was very easy to know what was going on in politics, which made some classes in high school a bit easier, and I really enjoyed knowing about current events. Sometimes my friends’ parents would ask me who to vote for because they figured I was better informed than they were. It was always easy to find my house during election season because we would be the house with six signs supporting different candidates in the front yard.

Then I come American University, which last year was the most politically active campus but now has gone down to sixth. And I was politically active last year. I campaigned, I voted absentee, and I followed the news.

And then the 2008 election started. In 2006. I think the reason I don't really care about this upcoming election is that it has been going on so long with nothing really changing. It’s like seeing advertisements for Christmas at Halloween. It’s too much.

Now being back at college for my sophomore year, I don’t really care. I am not really impressed by any of the candidates and I do not really feel the need to actively support any of them on either side. Other than a couple pet issues, I am really taking a step back from politics.

However, I think that if I really saw a candidate do really well in a debate, I might be swayed. My political apathy phase might end and I would remember again why being active in democracy is a good idea. I could be passionate about the future of our government again. So hopefully the new debate structure we want will allow the candidates to be impassioned and inspiring so that we as voters can remember why we vote.

7 comments:

Anna said...

I don't know the first thing about politics and really have no interest in it. I'm a Comm. major and I want to go into PR but when I graduate I'm moving to NYC and making a million dollars. Anyway, the fact is that when it comes down to it, I really don't care. I'm beginning to change my mind though, since this is the first presidential election that I am allowed to vote in. I am going to help choose the person who represents America, and to a certain extent, who represents me, and I need to make an informed decision. So hopefully this blog will force me to do some research. But I'm with you -- elections are getting to be too much. I feel like I've been hearing a lot about the candidates for the past few years!

Don't lose hope and stay interested...You can help people like me make better decisions!

Mia said...

Like the author of this post, I had always considered myself to be more politically minded than most of my peers while growing up. When I came to college, I was pleased to find myself in an environment where everyone was excited about politics, where everyone wanted to engage in political debate.

The thing is, whether knowledgeable or ill-informed, most people don't seem to want to learn anything from debate. They merely want to reinforce their own beliefs -- believes that are often conveniently prepackaged as Democratic or Republican.

During the course of writing for this blog, I've hoped to stumble on evidence of insightful debate between presidential candidates. I've yet to find anything that would convince me to support either major party.

I now realize that some of the best debate -- and the hardest questions -- comes from the fringes (from the dissident media, dare I say?) It's my faith in the dissidents that prevents total political apathy.

Cecilia C-W said...

I completely agree with Mia's comment regarding the ideal versus the perhaps more realistic function of political debates. I think the majority of peope who actively schedule their activities around watching political debates also already have pretty solid (well-grounded or otherwise) political opinions. They watch the debates, cheering when a candidate addresses an issue with which they've already decided they agree, and scoffing at everything else. The debates become less and less interactive and more like some kind of weird, bastardized sports game.

But if we can compare American political debates with, say, watching a football game, then watching the final debate between Ségolène Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy, the last two candidates duking it out for presidential victory in France this past May was akin to watching a bullfight. Royal seized every possible opportunity to furiously lash out at Sarkozy, while Sarkozy muttered passive-aggressively insulting comments out of the corner of his mouth (all the while reminding the French public how he was the "better man" for not stooping to Royal's level). Both candidates went well over their time allowances, and I was left asking myself: how much of that time was wasted on childish bickering?

I'm just offering a little perspective, I guess.

AUblogger said...

I am on the same page with this blogger. Politics consume so much of the media’s attention that after a while I just stop caring. There are so many candidates, so many issues, and so little time. I have always thought of myself as a fairly well politically informed individual. I enjoy learning about politics, I have my beliefs, and I’m interested in how the U.S. government works. But at this point, 13 months before the presidential election, I’m already sick of the presidential candidates. Too much of something is never a good thing. Take for instance the Christmas decorations that will go on display in about a month and a half and last until January. We will want Christmas to be over with before it even begins! I definitely think that Americans over consume politics, or are at least forced to.

If it wasn’t for this class I wouldn’t even be up to date with the presidential candidates and their campaigns. I don’t have enough time to and nor do I see the point. Why not just wait until the candidates get a bid from their party? That’s when the real showdown begins and when the issues matter. Who is the better of two evils? Who has the best platform? Whose beliefs are most like mine? These are the questions I will ask myself this time next year. But until then, I think I’m just going to sit back and wait for them to duke it out.

If there was a change in the political debate process I definitely think that I would make greater initiative to get involved and to get to know the candidates early on. Like the rest of us writing for this blog, I want to see personable, passionate political debate. I want to see the true candidate, their personalities, and their flaws. No one is perfect, so I don’t know why it’s such a big deal in today’s world that the presidential candidates have to portray themselves as being flawless. If we were to renew political debates I think we would get to know the candidates a lot better and a lot sooner. There wouldn’t be 16 candidates because half of them wouldn’t even make the cut. Political campaigns start far too early, are superficial, and people raise gross amounts of money in which a majority of is wasted. It is not necessary. Real, political discussion would undoubtedly change this process and provoke a greater initiative in the American people to get to know the candidates and to vote. Until then, we’ll remain the country that has more people voting for their American Idol than their next president…and people wonder why?

ilovelamp said...

I can’t say I grew up in a very political household, or that I have ever really considered myself to be far more politically minded than my peers. My parents, who are both fairly political (whatever that means), never really discussed politics at home. To be honest, whether they meant to or not, I think they did the best thing for me by not forcing their political perspectives down my throat. I can recall the first time I ever really realized that my parents were part of the political sphere. It was during the presidential elections of 2001. I was a naive 8th grader, and a boy in my class brought in tons of Bush-Cheney posters for our class. I guess he was hardcore or something (scratch that, I know he was hardcore), and wanted us to take the signs home for our yards. I didn’t think much of it and really knew nothing about the difference between the Democratic and Republican party, but I’ll never forget the tone in my dad’s voice when he saw the poster lying next to my backpack and asked, “where did you get this?” He wasn’t angry or obnoxious about his dislike for the then presidential candidate, but I could tell instantly how he felt, and I think it was in this moment that I decided to dislike politics. Every once in a while I’ll tell myself “I’m going to pick up the Washington Post today,” or, “I’m going to watch a presidential debate today,” but rarely, if ever, do I follow through. I’d like to say I care about politics, I mean, the decisions these people are debating about directly affect my life. That’s a big deal! Perhaps I should follow Mia’s lead and become an avid follower of the dissidents. Either way, I feel a responsibility to be at least somewhat aware of the candidates in the political sphere. One of them will, after all, be a big part of my future.

p.s. For a fun activity, count the number of times that I use the word, or a form of the word "politics" in this response.

AUblogger said...

i counted 9 times. haha sorry, it's late and im procrastinating.

Medusagemini said...

It's so frustrating to hear that people are still apathetic about politics. Just think of the state of our country:

TWO wars. the country is in massive debt, half of the world hates us, an obesity epidemic, and a crumbling housing market. Not to mention, a bunch of important decisions are being pushed that will affect the lives of many: immigration, gay marriage, abortion, health care etc.

I'm sure some of y'all are passionate about SOMETHING. And even if you care more about the issues than the politics itself, the only way to furhter any of your issues is to pay attention to the political process. It's easy too get annoyed with the circus of the election process. But don't forget the importance of knowing the candidates.

Just think about how different the country would be now if we had voted Al Gore in 2000.