I've had a realization recently: I would never make it as a politician. On one hand, I think that politics might work for me. I enjoy (and think I'm decently good at) looking at problems and trying to find ways to solve them. One the other, much larger, hand, I'm a critical thinker. Now, I'm not saying that no politicians are critical thinkers. Quite the contrary, many of them are, but the way critical thinking manifests itself in my intellect is such that I care much more about ideas, issues, problems, solutions, etc. than I do about blaming other people. I certainly recognize blame and think it should be applied appropriately, but I simply cannot stand how both of our two main parties in this country spend more time denigrating the other side than they do actually talking about the issues at hand.
I have grown to recognize this more recently as I have moved in the past few years from a Republican to an Independent. I'm able to hear it more now and I don't like it. I know the "bases" apparently enjoy hearing Democrats put down Republicans and vice-versa, but all that is accomplished by that is people who already agree with you are strengthened in their commitment. Ideas aren't thought about critically. Real solutions aren't sought. Minds aren't changed.
This doesn't mean, though, that nothing good comes from politics. I think, for instance, that the recent health care reform bill was good. It is a step in the right direction, in my opinion, though I think it should have been much more expansive and inclusive in its reforms. Also, whether we like it or not, what happens in politics affects us intimately.
For that reason we should be as involved as we can. Learn. Know the issues. Listen to discussions about them. Know your perspective and why you hold it. Listen to the other side. Learn. Think long and hard about the various sides of the issues. Discuss the issues with people you agree with and people you disagree with. Learn.
Please, be the responsible citizen that I know you can be. Use your head and do the hard work of actually thinking about how you're going to vote and why and then vote. Don't just sit around and complain. Do all that you can do, and then do more. This is not an attempt to get you to agree with me. As I tell my students (though with them the conversations are about religion), I don't care if you end up agreeing with me, I just care that you thought critically about the topic.
I, like many others and probably some of you, am fed up with a lot of politics, but I'm still voting. I've registered to vote in SC (just moved here 10 days ago) and have already begun researching the candidates for this November's mid-term elections. I hope you're doing the same.