As an outdoors columnist I know I’m supposed to hate the Election Season along with all the other knuckle-dragging Neanderthals that believe as John Gierach does that, “ The solution to any problem – work, love, money, whatever – is to go fishing and the worse the problem the longer the trip should be.”
But I actually like this process.
I secretly, now publicly, enjoy when research groups pull me from my stories of fishing escapades on my laptop to ask me political questions.
A gentleman doing a national survey in which my “answers will be confidential” called me, admitted he didn’t watch the debate, didn’t DVR it, didn’t watch the previous two debates, didn’t read about the debates, but knows how he is going to vote – hung up on me. But I had more questions!
A few days ago, a lady I could only assume was hopped up on performance enhancing substances flawlessly regurgitated her spiel without taking a breath, to which I calmly had the following interaction:
“How much coffee have you had today, because you are talking really fast.”
“Sounds like a lot of fun.”
“Literature? I teach English, I wouldn’t call it literature, I would call it propaganda though.”
I’ll miss them. Seriously. No sarcasm. And there’s no sarcasm about that ‘no sarcasm’ claim. It’s because for a couple months a large portion of the country recalculates how it feels, what it believes. Some dust off their world-view and think, ‘What was I thinking?’, while others have four more years worth of reinforcement. I’ll miss the potential for honest debate, which is neglected in three year chunks until the coals of politics are fanned by election propaganda and talking heads.
Sure it is frustrating, but it is also a chance to be invested in the direction of the country because the idea that it doesn’t really matter and America will always be untouchable is a little scary. Our problems are largely of our own making – the erosion of our collective moral compass, our spending, our apathy, our lack of industriousness and our inability to work together.
I take my English students through a national newspaper once a week or so and we discuss some of the goings-on. Since I vote by mail, some have asked me whom I chose, but I decline because as a teacher my personal belief is that it is my job to teach my students to think for themselves, not tell them what to think. They should arrive at conclusions, not be fed them. They should celebrate the process of figuring where they stand and what’s best.
A friend of mine and former colleague at the school newspaper at the University of Arizona works for one of the national congressional committees. He has every opportunity to be partisan. Instead he posts things like, “Whoever you think won tonight, these debates are phenomenal. These are the first presidential debates in my lifetime where the candidates actually interact with each other and, well, debate. Our country deserves this kind of substantive discussion and interaction between the candidates.”
No name-calling. No bias cheerleading. He adds to the social media debate, he doesn’t lace it with vitriol. Sound-bites are awesome for Facebook posts and political cartoons, but not everyone has the integrity, to listen and challenge their own conclusions.
I will also miss how important I am as a voter even if the expectation is I have no brain. According to cardstock group-think, I should wholly put my trust in that this simple little new tax will solve all the problems; that I should vote against the evil earth-warming, trout-killing oil companies whenever possible and not consider that employees of unions have their dues deducted without their consent.
While it might bring out the most ridiculous, illogical and dirty aspects of our thinking culture which incubates feelings of helplessness or apathy, at least I have the freedom to make up my own mind because the government cannot control my vote or speech (yet), and you can write a letter to the editor telling me how misguided I am.
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