Monday, August 02, 2004
Behold, the lilies of the field...
Originally uploaded by jonnybutter.
It's a common refrain: 'How can there be so many undecideds at this stage of the presidential campaign? How can they possibly have avoided making up their minds by now?' How indeed? Is this a demonstration of the vaunted native sagacity of the American people, or just indolence? Well, both.
The fact is, it's incredibly easy to seal yourself off completely, have absolutely no contact, even peripherally, with current events and politics if that's what you want. You can easily choose to live in an America which is timeless as memory - sports being the only current events kept up with. You can make it all go completely away. True, if you live in a swing state, you have to have a well-trained finger on the remote for a while, but this too shall pass. There's always a Seinfeld or Law and Order rerun on. These politicians in DC or the Statehouse aren't the real America. If we ignore them, perhaps they'll just go away....
Is the ability to be oblivious a right, an entitlement? Is it a right - perhaps a commercial right - to be able to live on your own little cloud? ('My life, my world! It all begins with a dream' goes the jingle for the Financial Advice company). I would say it is, but not the overarching right.
We take the 'pursuit of happiness' VERY seriously in this country, and well we should. It is one of the most beautiful things about America. Politics is not life; life is life. We ALL, no matter how obsessed, need breaks from the gigantic, unsightly kludge which is politics. But there is a difference between being a citizen and being a 'consumer' (after 9/11, Bush told us that our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to get out there and spend money). To those who say, 'I'm not really into politics', as if it were a hobby or entertainment, I would assert that life and liberty are prerequisites for the third item in that phrase. Beautiful as the idea of Political Lilies of the Field is - and it's as old as Jefferson - it simply can't work in a democracy. Like cancer or car troubles, completely ignore politics and it will get worse and worse.