What’s in the politics?

| Forum Editor

I’ve always shied away from politics. I like to stay informed, but I don’t like to argue with people about whether or not this senator is right or that proposition is wrong. With the recent passing of the health care bill, I’ve started to question whether or not a natural aversion to politics is good or bad.

No one cares how I was brought up, but I think you should know anyway. I was always told never to talk about two things at the dinner table: religion and politics. I really do think that lesson stuck with me. Whenever either is brought up, I quietly remove myself from the conversation. It’s not an aversion to debate. I’ll argue with anyone, even my dog. It’s possible that my distance from politics comes from an inherent doubt that my knowledge of current policy is comprehensive and well rounded, but then again I doubt that Glenn Beck cares whether what he’s saying has any relevance at all. Granted, I find it difficult to make time to sit down and sift through political issues, and happen to think much of what is argued about is arbitrary. Lack of knowledge doesn’t really apply to religion either, so I don’t think that’s at the heart of my distaste for these discussions. It probably stems from a basic inability to prove anything in these arguments, coupled with the strong likelihood that you will inevitably offend someone or piss them off.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way, so should we feel bad about our cowardice in the face of politics? I don’t think we should. An apolitical society, no doubt, would be chaotic; however, removing yourself from discussion, at least the verbal end doesn’t require you to remove yourself from the process.

Personally, I think one of the best moves you can make is to keep yourself informed, listen to the experts, formulate an opinion, vote and keep your mouth shut. I realize the irony of the “keep your mouth shut” advice, given that it’s coming from a columnist who asks you to care about what comes out of his mouth once a week, but forgive me for the hypocrisy.

Disinterest is most certainly a bad characteristic to have, and I’m not advocating for that at all. Nor do I think that political debate among friends should be banished either. It is often stimulating conversation, but it should be saved for appropriate times and for appropriate venues.

If you’re really starving for political deliberation, tune into any news channel. There are enough bloviating nut jobs on TV to satisfy even the most cavernous of political appetites. Then, you can scream at the TV; it’s often more satisfying than screaming at a real person. There’s none of that terrible guilt that comes after you realize you probably shouldn’t have called your friend a Rush Limbaugh-worshipping right-wing neo-Nazi sack of c—, or leftist hippy environmentalist know-nothing self-righteous d—. (See how I offended both sides there; I’m a politician in the making, equal insults for all!)

When all is said and done, there’s really no reason to foist your political opinion on anyone. If you don’t like to shout your party colors from the top of a mountain, then don’t, and don’t feel inadequate about it.

Charlie is a sophomore in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.