Politics as Usual

At this point in my life, politics is just not something that I’m particularly interested in. Things may change as I age, but at this point I just don’t care. I live in D.C., arguably the political capitol of the world, and could not give less of a shit. I am not up to date on anything that is going on. What ever happened to that guy with the foreign name? Brock? Wasn’t he a Pokemon Gym Leader? Is that guy still in the mix for the Presidency?

I’m intentionally not going to vote in next month’s election. I feel it would be civically irresponsible for me to do so. The decision of who should be leading the Leaders of the Free World should not be taken lightly or made in haste. It should be a deliberate choice, and one made only after a comprehensive review of the situation. As I mentioned before, I am not in that situation. I’m entirely ignorant of Obama and Romney’s personal lives and political stances (for the most part), so much so that I imagine it would make some of you readers laugh at me in incredulity. As such, I feel as if it would be irresponsible for me to vote. It would be akin to having asked my mother to weigh in on who should have won the 2011-12 NBA MVP, Lebron James or Kevin Durant; I’d anticipate a response along the lines of, “Who do they play for again?” Obviously there’s nothing wrong with her being unaware, but that’s why she’s not part of basketball’s voting process. I’d imagine someone could argue that there IS something wrong with me being politically unaware – that my oblivion is where my civic irresponsibility lies – and while that may or may not be the case, I feel very strongly that it would be more wrong for me to add in my 3.95 cents in my current situation.

I did, however, overhear a particularly remarkable polling statistic today that I feel the need to discuss. According to a poll cited in this article – and likely elsewhere – Obama has the support of 94% of African American voters; Romney is pulling 0% of that demographic. Does that seem just a little lopsided to anyone else? It certainly does to me, and there can really only be one explanation: that an enormous constituency of our society is voting, based not on who is best suited for the job, but instead on self-interest, and in this case likely because they believe the candidate who is most similar to themselves is the most likely to look out for them.

This attitude is certainly distressing, but there’s something more upsetting about it than its incongruity with the concept of justice.

I took Political Philosophy my Junior year of college, and the first book we were assigned to read was Plato’s The Republic. We began with this text because it, in essence, was the first text to delineate a theory of justice / politics and laid the groundwork for all future discussions of the subject. In Book 1 of The Republic, according to Wikipedia, ‘Thrasymachus gives his understanding of justice and injustice as “justice is what is advantageous to the stronger, while injustice is to one’s own profit and advantage.”’ In this passage, Socrates ends up proving Thrasymachus’s theory of justice to be wrong, but has no problem with his statement about injustice. After all, it’s right, right? How could he have beef with THAT?

The reason the aforementioned paradigm is so distressing is that it was identified over 2,000 years ago as being intuitively unjust. TWO THOUSAND YEARS. AND CHANGE. SERIOUSLY? It was so obvious, Plato didn’t even need to use his first book to disprove it.

The paradigm itself wouldn’t be a huge issue, in itself, but it’s a problem that we can’t realistically expect all of us to grow up and make some progress. 94% to 0% shows we’ve been unable to make any significant improvements in that department. We’re batting 0.000.

What makes this even worse is that, if the injustice of this political approach was established over two millennia ago and we’re not even close to eradicating it, how are we supposed to feel confident in gaining any ground on modern political issues? Are any of you readers dreaming of the days when we’ve settled the issues of abortion, gay marriage, and racism so we can move on to more important things? Better buckle up – you’re going to be in for a long ride.

In my opinion, that’s wildly discouraging.

But who am I?

2 responses to “Politics as Usual

  1. Good point kid. Surely a union of many members, with varying interests, all voting for self-gain will be less productive than the members of that same union voting to strengthen the group. (But that’s socialist talk)

    I also understand your decision not to vote. It makes me wonder, though, how do we quantify the proper/appropriate level of awareness, interest, and knowledge required to make ones vote a worthy vote?

    Finally, I’m pretty sure there are African American Republicans voting for Romney. Herman Cain for one, and we can’t forget Juelz Santana & Lil Wayne.

  2. I agree that its depressing how much identity plays into politics. I would really like it if everything that’s happened up to this point in human history were frozen and put into a theoretical museum. Everyone would have access to this shared history, they wouldn’t identify with a given moment or people to the total exclusion of others, and we as a race of naked monkey men/women could move forward.*

    I feel like your comparison between Thrasymachus and black voters is a little off though. Thrasymachus would have been a fully privileged male citizen of Athens, with all of the rights and aspirations that entails. Socrates correcting his idea of justice was basically like him saying, “No deuschebag, you advancing your political career, getting a sweet car, and banging the hottest ladies is not justice. That’s just you getting everything you want.”. African American’s voting for the first black president of the United States within living memory of the civil rights movement is different. To go back to Greece it would be more like a recently freed slave saying, “Justice is my ability to stay free and have access to the same careers, cars, and ladies as Thrasymachus”. It’s a definition still motivated by egotism, but its tempered by the experience of being a second class citizen. I wouldn’t say its necessarily admirable, but it makes sense to me.

    *I understand that this would have a different personal cost depending on your background, but I think it will more or less happen on its own if we don’t go extinct first.

    For anyone interested in historic accuracy replace all instances of “Sweet Car” with “Sweet Chariot”, and all uses of “Hot Lady” with “Hot Pubescent Boy”

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