For a long time I was addicted.
It started with CNN. Was sorta like training wheels, an “Intro to Cable News” 100-level beginner’s course that covered all the basics without getting too specific. The major subjects were there, always with the right graphics and flashing lights, but after a few years the Best Political Team On Television just wouldn’t cut it anymore. The waving flags and constant Breaking News exaggerations began to lose their luster. I kept going back for more and kept leaving disappointed, unfulfilled. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well…well…you know how the joke goes. (ode to W.)
The political fix I was getting from CNN was no longer going to be enough. My cravings had become too strong and I was now too advanced for what this increasingly fluffy network could provide. So I moved onto MSNBC and FOX News, looking for something deeper, a more intense buzz. And it worked. The issues were discussed in finer detail, the opinions more passionate, and there seemed to be an atmosphere of not merely presenting fabricated political theater, but actually caring about the big issues enough to roll up their sleeves and get dirty with it.
And that’s what I needed. That’s why I was devoting so much of myself to the subject of American politics – because it was important. It mattered. The US was the “leader of the free world” so what happened in their political world was worth paying attention to. My appetite for big issues, my desire to be a part of the larger debates affecting our world, all pointed me in the direction of the American political spectrum.
Honestly, who cared what happened in my local city politics? Even my national elections didn’t have any substantial consequences. Things up here would be OK, no matter which way things went. But what happened in the US…now that was big, that mattered.
So I stayed committed. Listened to Air America and watched Keith Olbermann and went to bed with the Daily Show. When I needed my raged stroked, I would watch clips of Bill O’Reilly and Hannity and the other archaic hardliners.
I was fully involved, ready to keep on fighting. And at the peak of my addiction, after the New Hampshire democratic primary, as Barrack Obama gave a roaring piece of poetry dressed as speech, I felt goosebumps over my body and tears swelling in my eyes. It was worth it. My energies had not been wasted. My love had been given to the right place.
And, like millions around the world, I did celebrate. Felt part of history.
But like any buzz, it wears off. Quicker and quicker the more artificial the substance.
The longer I watched and the more I learned, the more I began to see. Soon I began to notice that the talking heads all sounded the same. The pundits brought on as experts all delivered identical talking points. It was always Left vs. Right and us vs. them. As I developed a deeper understanding of the issues, and as I became more immune to the flashy presentation and pumped up rhetoric, a sick and deepening realization came to me…
This is disgusting.
Poverty, war, healthcare, income inequality – issues that are literally life and death for millions of people – being used as taglines for a rehearsed and never-ending cycle of posturing and ulterior motives.
I became and am still horrified.
I realize now that most of you don’t actually care about any of the issues you pretend to represent. You care only about your side. You’re a glorified, self-centered cheerleader. Nothing more. You bicker like 12 year old siblings and keep vital conversation running in circles while people suffer and die waiting for you to fulfill your obligations of public service.
The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. –Martin Luther King, Jr.
What may be worse, and who may deserve an even hotter place in eternity, are those who are in a position to help and instead look to their own selfish self-interests.
So I am weaning myself off of your glamour. Yes, I still check-in to Morning Joe, and Rachel Maddow, and Bill Maher, because every addict still longs for a fix and these folks seem to have their heart and heads in the right place.
But I am outgrowing you, US politics. The world is moving forward and you are still running in the same old spot. I still believe you can be great. I still hold on to that hope. But until you shape up, throw out the money, and stop being so goddamn focused on your own petty little bubbles…I have to step away. I just can’t let you do this to me anymore. I will not be a part of it.