From Facebook Debates To Public Service, Why Are We All So Afraid Of Politics?

Flickr / Luke Lucas
Flickr / Luke Lucas

As the nation inches closer to the general election, and as parties begin to solidify behind their presumptive nominees, one doesn’t have to scroll far in any direction before coming across an opinionated Facebook status. I certainly annoy the shit out of more than – the last time I checked – 1,845 people I’m connected with. But should it be considered annoying? There was a time when engaging in lively, respectful dialogue was encouraged, even admired. Google “Athens,” ancient Greece, the origin of the word “forum,” et cetera. That time has passed.

Political discussions are actively avoided in the workplace. Why? Well, one could assume that it is a preventative measure. By discouraging conversations about politics, a workplace can tacitly “put out the fire” before it is ignited, or limit the likelihood of a heated argument between a few upset marketing associates. Of course, some may be dismayed by the potential impact on productivity, but, as with all things, it is important to remember that moderation is key. This environment raises an interesting question. When the two conflict, which of our identities is more important? Our identities as employees? Or our identities as citizens, each of us endowed with the liberty to vote?

Wherever you may be reading this, please call your Congressman/woman and tell him/her to block any attempt to make accessing a voting booth more difficult. As a rule, voting shouldn’t be more difficult than it is for a teenager to buy a six-pack of beer (aka very easy).

My blathering brings me to the biggest question of all: In politics, where the f*ck are all of our nation’s geniuses? Where are the brilliant men and women who have graduated from Princeton, from MIT, from Stanford? No, let me be more specific. On the stage where Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have been debating, where are the talented scientists, the visionary filmmakers, the detail-oriented engineers? The more you begin to think about it, the more frightening it is that so many flock to (and remain in) the private sector. Shit, even public officials grow weary of the environment and leave through the infamous “revolving door.” Some, like Hillary Clinton, pass through that door much more frequently. She has risen to great heights in an environment unfavorable to women, but that accomplishment is not redeemable for one Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card.

(Hillary, if you are reading this, I hope that you will release the transcripts of your speeches. I have held my breath long enough and the brain damage will make me more inclined to vote for Donald Trump.)

Now, I will make a confession that might surprise you: I am an employee in the private sector. How hypocritical of me to be writing these words then, right? Far from the affordability enjoyed by previous generations, it is no longer possible to receive a college education that can be paid for with part-time jobs at the amusement park.

I am telling you the truth when I say that, because of my life insurance policy, I’m worth more dead than alive. Note: Alma mater, if you’re reading this, please stop calling my cell phone and asking for donations. I will call you. For the time being, you and I are both trying to keep the lights on.

My ask of each reader is to envision a nation run by our brightest minds, our innovators, our architects. America cannot and should not be run by the private sector. Don’t get me wrong, the private sector does many things very well, but it is not its civic duty to lead and it is not its right to exert more influence over government than the individual has.

In closing, I will not tell you who to vote for. I trust that you will think for yourself, and I hope that you will respect my opinion in return. Perhaps, in the future, we could even compromise.

We are all adults.

For the sake of our democracy, we should start to act like them. TC mark

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