I’ve thought long and hard about what to do for the 1,000th post on this blog. I considered doing something crazy with video. I considering blowing by it with no real attention paid to it. But, I really wanted to do something I’ve never done before. I’m writing a post about politics. It may turn out short (not likely). It may turn out long (more likely). Either way, stick it out to the end.
First, why I don’t write about politics normally: I don’t want to spend my precious life moderating comments which I’d have to do if we started talking politics. So I’m going to do this one post on politics, and probably regret it shortly afterward.
I’ve been very interested in our political system ever since I turned 18. Over the last decade since I fell in love with politics, I’ve fallen very much out of love with it. Not really with the idea, just with how the system works now. If I were breaking up with politics, it would be one of those “It’s not me it’s you” situations.
If you’re still reading this post hoping to see if I wave a McCain flag or talk about my Obama bumper sticker, you can stop now. I don’t have either. This presidential race is really the end of my interest in modern politics as it stands. Here we have a race that can really be described as the lesser of two mediocrities. I know there are a lot of supporters of both men, but I also know a lot of people who have no interest whatsoever in seeing either of these men in the office of president. I’m one of the latter.
Is it because they are bad men? No. It’s just because they are politicians. Notice I didn’t say they were bad politicians. To write that would imply that there are, somewhere out there, good politicians.
Both men are just victims of the political system. I think there was a time when the electoral system was about making sure everyone’s voice was heard. I think that time has long passed.
There is now one word that drives everything in politics. Win. Win at all costs. Win no matter what. Win.
And once you win. It becomes about winning again in four years. The pursuit of the almighty victory is what turns most politicians’ spines to jelly. It’s what causes them to say one thing today and the opposite tomorrow (and somehow still sleep at night). The hope of a win is the coal that powers the political train.
I’m going to throw an idea out there. It’s a little crazy. I’m sure I’m not the first to think of it. In fact, I’m sure I’m not the first to write about it either. But, you can just feel it when you talk politics with people. An underlying desire for change. Something flowing beneath the surface that could be better than what we have now.
What if politics wasn’t about winning?
But if you aren’t running to win, no one will give you money! And if no one gives you money, you can’t run ads! And if you can’t run ads, you can’t…win.
There it is.
That word. Any argument against politics not being about winning ultimately comes back to winning. It’s so ingrained in us, we can’t seem to get away from us.
What if politics went back to being about people’s voices being heard? What if politics was about standing up, telling the world what you truly, deeply believe and then letting them choose? What if we stripped away the layers of speech writers, spin doctors and campaign planners to get to the heart of the candidates? What if a politician could say what he or she truly believed without regard to how it would effect a certain block of voters? What if politicians looked at us as people, not as votes?
I think life would be better. Running for office would be about discussion of what people really need. It would askew our current system of talking points and spin for one of truth.
Will this ever happen? Probably not. If someone where to run like that, it would either be a breath a fresh air leading to a landslide victory or that person would crash and burn because they would be entering a system not designed for that much honesty. Most likely they would crash and burn. And we all know if you crash and burn once, it hurts your chances for winning in the future.
Dang it. There we are at winning again.
So what do we do about it?
We run. We run like crazy. We run for president. We run for mayor. We run for dog catcher (do they still elect those anywhere?). We run.
And then we crash and burn. We lose because we don’t worry about offending people. We lose because we are honest. We lose because we don’t fit in the system. But that’s ok, remember? We weren’t running to win anyway.
Then maybe, just maybe something crazy will happen and someone will be elected while running like this. Then what? Who knows?