Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Warning: Rant Ahead

Now that I am older (and according to lore - wiser), I want to rant on a topic that I have gradually written less and less on: politics.

My silence on this topic may be a result of one or more of the following:
  • Frustration
  • Apathy
  • Distraction
  • Dimentia
  • Resignation
Or perhaps I just did not have anything to say.

We are coming up to an election. Let's call it an election lite. The turnout for the last mid-term election was around37 percent (which is more or less on par for midterm elections). Presidential elections garner about 50 to 60 percent. There are differences in the numbers based on what you take as the denominator (voting age people, voting eligible people, or registered voters). In any case, those rates are sad for a country that supposedly prides itself on democractic ideals.

That's not to say that things would be better off if we had higher participation rates.

If we had a better educated electorate, however, I think we would be both better off and have higher participation rates.

We would also have less mind-control from the corporate media. Two shameless examples are the 9-11 film that aired on ABC that distorted facts to push a political message and the confrontation between Bill Clinton and Chris Wallace this past weekend. It was amazing that there was such a direct confrontation on the air. The way it was reported, however, portrayed Clinton as the belligerent and irrational individual. If you watch the whole interview (or at least the entire part where the confrontation took place), it is clear that while Clinton is upset, he is also articulate and convincing in his arguments.

I encourage you to see the interview. Joe has kindly linked the interview, as well as some of the smarter reaction to it. I found Keith Olbermann's commentary particularly refreshing and Jon Stewarts quiet cynicism on target.

Which brings me to the second issue I want to discuss - safety. The current administration continues to hammer home the ideology of fear and that only they can provide us the safety we so desire. They use this ideology to destroy guarantees of civil rights at home and pursue criminal foreign policies. We are supposed to believe that they are creating a neat shield to ensure that we are safe.

Then we eat spinach. And we get sick.

They tell us not to eat spinach, but after exhaustive searches, they still don't know why or how the once healthy leafy green became contaminated with e. coli. Panic ensues and tons of spinach is discarded. I wonder if anyone will eat spinach ever again.

I like spinach. I will eat it again.

The moral of the story, however, is that some terrorist who did not wash her/his hands after relieving her/himself, could hurt us and create a nationwide panic and our government continues its run down the path of ineptitude despites its claims of vigilance and safety.

Maybe we should start a war on spinach or on e. coli. I should point out that we should be wary of the term war - especially when the war is "on" something. Wars are fought "against" an enemy. Terrorism is not an enemy, its a tactic. Fighting a war on terror is as silly as one on spinach.

The truth is: we will never be safe. We can be safer (remember the whole deal with safe vs. safer sex). We can be safer with world cooperation and ensuring that people are not driven to extremism. Our goal should be a world were terrorism becomes an unecessary, or at least, an unacceptable, tactic. We are so far from that world.

Voting in the next election will not bring us closer to that world, but I am going to vote anyway. Even if all the contests that I will be voting in are pretty much not contests.

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