...or you'll fall for anything.
Yep, once again, the country music scene has the sentiment correct.
I don't care where you stand on the Obama/McCain debate. The reality is that we aren't getting anything out of their multi-million dollar campaigns that could be dreamed up by a technical writer with an active imagination. It is all a bunch of feel-good, tell-me-what-I-want-to-hear-and-don't-let-it-hurt, mumbo-jumbo.
The following passages came from an article in this week's Newsweek.
"It is one of our fondest political myths that elections allow us collectively to settle the "big issues." The truth is that there's often a bipartisan consensus to avoid the big issues, because they involve unpopular choices and conflicts. Elections become exercises in mass evasion; that certainly applies so far to the 2008 campaign..."
So in essence, the political environment is just a macro version of middle school. The most popular people say enough to set themselves apart from the wallflowers, but avoid anything that makes them too unique for the other loud-mouths. Fortunately, many students outgrow these platitudes when they enter high school. That or at least they find a group of others who truly share their opinion, seek to explore its depths further, and come out even stronger on their particular point. Unfortunately, I don't think our presidential candidates ever mentally graduated the eighth grade...
But let's not place all of the blame on the candidates...WE are the ones telling them what WE want to hear...and our demands are exactly sensical...
"People complain about governmental gridlock. But what often obstructs constructive change is public opinion. The stalemates on immigration and retirement spending are typical. We avoid messy problems; we embrace inconsistent and unrealistic ambitions. We want more health care and lower health costs; cheap energy and less dependence on foreign energy; more government spending and lower taxes. The more unattainable our goals, the more we blame "special interests," "lobbyists" and other easy scapegoats."
Look, if you expected life to be all roses, guess what? It is. By any standard, Americans live in the proverbial land of milk and honey. But the reality is simply this, you can't live an oxy-moron. You have the best the developed world has to offer even though you don't have cheap, domestic, and renewable energy all wrapped into one neat package.
You can't have it all, so stop expecting the government to give it you. If we start setting priorities, making choices, and voicing our specific opinions, not just adolescent platitudes about the unfairness of life and our desire for utopia (duh), we might give our candidates the courage and message to show us who they really are and what they can really do and we might actually get some where.
"In this campaign, we have a candor gap. By and large, Americans want to be told what government will do for them--as individuals, families, consumers--and not what it will do for the country's long-term well-being, especially if that imposes some immediate cost or inconvenience. Grasping this, our leading politicians engage in a consensual censorship to skip issues that involve distasteful choices or that require deferred gratification. They prefer to assign blame and promise benefits. So elections come and go, there are winners and losers-- and our problems fester."
Might I conclude however, that this little article has more applications than simply the political arena. Make your words count. If you have an opinion, specific and educated, share it. That is productive. However, whatever you do, don't talk for the sake of talking. That is, unless you are sitting on a bar stool with a bunch of people who have time to listen to your random blathering.
Sometimes I wonder if we wouldn't be better suited to go back to the days of the Englightenment when dialogue and opinion was reserved for the Universities...more on that later...