Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Playing politics

Politics is downstream from culture.
- Andrew Breitbart

I think its time to retire the word politics.  It pains me to say it but the word has too much baggage. It's been made into a dirty word for a dirty mean-spirited thing that makes us into worse and worse people.  We did this, we created this understanding.  And we underestimated the influence that market forces have on access to decision makers and the decisions they make.  But Politics, that word that once represented the triumph of reason over barbarity, the promise of mankind, is now in shambles. Its a shell of its former glory, a cipher that represents now only the base machinations of operatives and professionals that put a premium on winning at all cost over winning in lasting, sustainable ways.

Politics has reduced perhaps the most important social exercise of all - namely the administration, caretaking and shared security of large groups of people - to a high-stakes game.  It infantizes us, rendering those who participate less and less sensible while filling the rest on the periphery with disgust and resentment for the 'system' of games that are played, the nakedly selfish interests of the players and the obvious inequities of the system.  The tragedy is that while politics makes fills us with disgust of the 'system', the 'system' is not separate from us.  It is us.  It is our cities, our provinces, our states, our countries and our world.  It is our community, made up of us, made for us, made by us.  Politics as it stands today, removes this personal investment in these real communities and in its place is fealty to the theoretical, the putative...the ideology of the party, the professional political class, the players in the game that observers are left to root for from the stands.

The well-being of a single human is difficult enough - ask any parent.  And no one would argue that one or two parents trying to decide what was best for a child was some kind of game.  How then could the arguments over what's best for 30 million people, 300 million people end up being full of less substance and more performance?  Be full of more empty promises and less patience for finding the path forward?  It may be an ideal notion that politics should be full of the most serious of people but it shouldn't just be a notion.  Anyone who thinks about it for a second would see why it should be a reality.  But once the human mind moves from wanting what's best for everyone including yourself, to wanting what we want - then it just becomes a matter of building relationships of convenience, relationship solely as a means to an end.  And then the games begin...

Perhaps we can try the word politics again in the future when every human understands this.  But for now, the word is simply too abused, too mistreated, too battered and bruised. Communication. Dialogue. Debate. Convince. Persuade.  All these words speak of something sophisticated, something important, something done while listening to someone else, something done while looking someone in the eye.  Something that is earnest and respectable.

'Politics' does not have that same ring.   At this point, we simply do it because we don't know how to do something else.  Maybe using a different word might help us to escape this losing game.