Got your attention yet? Ready for the porn? Sorry to disappoint you, dear reader, but the title and opening lines of this entry are only a red herring designed to draw your attention (cheap trick, huh?) and prove a point.
The other day I counted how many times I could find the word SEX (or a version of it) on magazines at the grocery store checkout line. I counted this three letter word no less than seven times in five variations. Sex, sexy, sexual, sexually, sexuality. A smorgasbord of sex! And that was only a small sampling at one small grocery checkout news stand. "What's the point?" you say? Sex sells.
You know how many magazine covers I saw that mentioned the 2008 presidential election? You guessed it. ZERO. A big, fat goose egg. Nada. Zilch. Less than once. Get me? Americans have proven time and time again that they do not care about political issues. That's old hat. Apparently we care about Britney Spear's breakdown. We care about what Hannah Montana wore to the Grammys. We care about what Paris Hilton ate at 2PM last Thursday.
Why do people care about these things and not the things that directly affect them? I think there are a few things that come into play here.
#1. Celebrity news is easy.
It doesn't take a rocket surgeon (That's a joke. Geddit?) to read an article speculating on the child rearing habits of Britney Spears, or the couch jumping techniques of Tom Cruise. We get to watch these people triumph and fall without ever having to invest any real brain power in the act.
#2. Our public servants have failed us.
People don't care about politics because the story never changes. The same power mongering, corrupt politicians stay in power year after year. The system hasn't changed in so long that people don't believe that change can still happen. We feel like what we have is what we are stuck with. Complacency is the devil, I say!
#3. The stakes are not yet sufficiently high to get our attention.
History repeats itself. When the fit hits the shan, people will take notice and do something. When things get bad enough, the people will march up the hill to the castle with pitchforks and garden tools and show the king that they've had enough. But will we wake up in time?
What affects you, dear reader? The economy? Immigration? Education? Foreign policy? Stem- cell research? Abortion?
Let's take a look the issue of current American foreign policy, shall we?
Enough said? Honestly, does anybody remember anything from American History 101? Thomas Paine? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? All of these founding fathers advocated non-interventionism. They warned us! George Washington said in his farewell address:
"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to domestic nations, is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities."
In other words: Stay out of other people's business! Did we listen? No! We cannot be the guardians, arbiters, and police for the entire globe. The entire globe doesn't want us to be involved in their affairs, anyway. Have we done some good? Yes. But we have also done some irrevocable damage. We, as Americans, need to learn that we can concentrate on what's happening on our side of the Atlantic, and that doesn't make us any less big and bad for it. Welcome to the 21st century. Can we please put the macho bullshit aside and worry about our own problems?
Segue to next set of issues. Immigration, education, economy. The value of the dollar is dwindling. I'm getting married in October, and my fiancée and I want to go to Ireland for our Honeymoon. However, we're not sure if we'll be able to do it, because the Euro is kicking the ass of the dollar. The exchange rate is going to kill us. What are we doing about it? Our government is putting together an incentive package that will give back money to taxpayers in an effort to increase spending and bolster the economy. Is this money going to come out of thin air? Don't people realize that the taxpayer will end up holding the bag in the long run?
Okay, so immigration. Right. This one is never going to be black and white. Can we open the borders and allow everyone in? Without ever getting into the racial and ethical questions, logistically we cannot support such a thing. Obviously things south of our border are not all peaches and cream, or people would not be trying so desperately to get into this country. And the humanitarian deep in all of us wants to help them. Even if you are against immigration, it becomes very different when you are looking a desperate, hungry person in the eyes, who ultimately only wants a better life for their family. I guess really one thing really needs to be addressed when it comes to this issue: taxes. I think the ability to speak English, if one is going to live in this country, is very important. If you wish to look at this as some type of white, elitist rhetoric, then please stop reading. I don't want you here. Just the bureaucracy that has to exist to sustain two languages is a huge tax burden. Think about it. What does it cost (you, the tax payer) to print all government literature in Spanish and English? How much does it cost (once again, the TAX PAYER) to pay incentives to government employees with bilingual abilities? The point is, all of this money is being sunk into an already heavy bureacracy to support a group of people that aren't even paying into the tax base that pays for said bureacracy. Confusing, huh?
Let's look at it from another angle. There are millions of illegal immigrants here already, right? Okay. So, are we going to get them all to go home? I seriously doubt it. Do we give them all amnesty? That's not fair to people from all over the world that have been trying the honest way to gain citizenship. I don't have the answers, but you see the conundrum, right? It's never black and white. Wherever human decency exists, there can never be a black and white, right or wrong answer to the question of illegal immigration. This reminds me of the redneck solution to the Middle East: "Hell, we oughta just nuke the sons of bitches!" Maybe that makes a hell of a lot of sense if you were born labotomized, but to normal people it just sounds horrendous. Nothing is that black and white.
I admit it! I don't have the solution. But the president of the United States of America needs to offer a viable solution, and I haven't heard one yet.
I'll conclude with this: I'm no political analyst. I don't pretend to be an expert on all of the issues. But I do try to be as informed as possible, and I am always willing to hear another side of the story. All I ask of you, dear reader, this election year is that you find out about the issues for yourself. Decide where you stand on them, and pick a candidate that best fits those views. And VOTE.
If you do none of those things, then you have no right to bitch when things start to go awry after November.