Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chilling Out About Politics

Here's one of the major problems with the American political system.  We measure a politician's pre-election success primarily by his ability to whip his listeners into an ecstasy of high-flown patriotic sentiment, to the point that we seem to vote for the most exciting candidate rather than the most qualified, or the one with the best ideas.

This is frustrating to me.  Do we not understand that (soundbytes that elicit cheers from huge crowds) < (intelligent ideas skillfully presented by a qualified person)?

And here's where I love Jon Stewart, really: despite the fact that I largely don't agree with him about politics, I love that he's encouraging people to turn off the caps lock and stop trying to fit their entire political philosophy onto a t-shirt or a protest sign.

I think it's a good word for pretty much everyone, honestly.  I'm not saying that you should cherish your political opinions with less fervor.  I'm not saying you need to become more politically moderate.  I'm just saying that, if the people you get your political news from make your blood pressure rise more than they make you think deeply and critically, you probably need to shut the TV off and read some Rousseau or something.


John Roberts said...

I don't think it's a problem with the system.

I think it's a problem with human minds. We don't want to think, because we have no interest in the truth. Indeed, the unregenerate mind, in its natural reprobation, suppresses the truth with unrighteousness, so genuine thought gets reduced to sound-bites.

Laura said...

You don't think there's any problem with the system, Dad?

I think that, while human sin has always been around, slogan t-shirts, Facebook, talking heads, news roundups, Wikipedia, the online data firehose, and Twitter have NOT. I think our collective attention span is so much shorter than it was 200 years ago, and our educational outlook no longer values critical thinking. That's a major problem when you're asking people to decide on issues that will impact generations to come.