It’s that time of the political season when I start to feel twitchy from guilt that I am not more engaged in the political process. As I was watching the talking heads on the Sunday morning shows, I felt uncomfortable, wondering if my participation in this year’s election is up to snuff.
Let’s review what I have done as a participant in this great democracy of ours:
- I watched the VP debate last week and tweeted my support for the democratic process, though I am not sure that was what the Founding Fathers had in mind for participatory democracy.
- I read a few paragraphs of the Supreme Court decision upholding President Obama’s healthcare plan.
- I DVR’ed an episode of Chris Hayes’ show and watched it.
- I hide (but do not defriend) obnoxious Facebook “friends” whose political status updates made me want to hurl.
- At the gym, I regularly watch Fox News because it’s the only station that comes in clearly on my favorite treadmill.
- I force myself to read all the political tweets in my Twitter feed, even those written by fringey people.
But, shouldn’t I be doing more to engage? I am youngish, well-educated, and have plenty of spare time to read blog posts about sagging breasts and the narcotizing effects of watching children play with Leggos. Should some of that time and energy be devoted to making the political process what I wish it was? (Less negative, less centered on personal attacks, less vicious, and less devoid of compassion, cooperation and creative solutions to real problems.)
The truth is that I don’t know how to engage. It seems so dirty and dehumanizing to deal with politics. Over and over, I have decided my time is better spent learning how to cook a new dish, or clean the refrigerator, or work on something creative that feeds my soul instead of reading an on-line article about how everything political in this country is BROKEN or debate the ethics of campaign finance.
But if everyone opts out, then who’s left?
I am not sure what it says about me that my favorite part of the Presidential election is the concession speech. Oh good Lord, did I cry all through McCain’s speech in 2008! There is more character and heart in a concession speech that all the other speeches combined. And, I wasn’t crying because I voted for McCain and was sad to see him exiting the national stage. I cried because it was pure moment (OK, maybe I felt a little sorry for him having to go back to Arizona with his super scary Stepford wife), that was about him and his moment to say, “I didn’t make it, but carry on.”
If there were more moments like that, I’d be all in. Give me something genuine to hold on to — not photo ops and pandering and stupid counterfeit stories calculated to pull my heart strings. I don’t need to have my heart strings pulled. I just need the candidates to be smart, prepared, compassionate, creative, honest, and human.
Is that too much to ask?