Why I’m Obsessed with Politics

Why I’m Obsessed with Politics

Last night I shared some more of the latest economic bullshit news with Jeri as she was working at the kitchen table & she asked me in an irritated tone, “Do you feel good when you learn this stuff?” or something to that effect. We had the usual negative exchange & I retreated to my work area feeling frustrated & unheard again and the idea to attempt to explain myself on this subject came to me. The following reasons are the best I can come up with at this point and are thoughts that occurred to me randomly so they aren’t in a logical or necessarily coherent order. I have been following politics roughly since 1984 because Reagan scared the hell out of me & I am sick and tired of being mocked & misunderstood by “friends” & family members so consider the following if you give a damn?

I have spent thousands of dollars on books about politics, history, economics, philosophy, etc. I have taped hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of audio & video programs on these subjects. I research incessantly these subjects. I engage joyously with others on these subjects when the rare occasion arises. And I write about these matters because I believe I am in a continual state of striving to be, or feel vindicated. I am not looking for sympathy but simply stating my honest opinions & feelings in a humble attempt to vindicate my name. I have been mocked & ridiculed ever since I started speaking my mind on these subjects. Mostly because my opinions are usually so contrary to what is commonly believed or expressed. I know that a lot of what I say shocks people because they have most likely never heard it before. Why? Because most of us get our “news” from television & newspapers which are obviously owned by a handful of very conservative individuals who have a vested interest in the “conservative” viewpoint. And no matter how often they claim that they are unbiased, it’s obvious to me that they are liars! Just check the political viewpoints of the major media’s “talking heads” yourself and tell me I’m wrong.

Next, I am ‘obsessed’ with politics because the more I learn, the more empowered I feel. Is that such a bad thing? Life beats us all down & I believe that for our individual psychic well-being, we should all find something about ourselves that we can take pride in. I also have an insatiable sense of curiosity. Perhaps I was born with it? All I know is that my mother told me that when I started kindergarten, I would get up before anyone else in our family, get myself dressed (wrongly), and head off to school. My mom would drive down to my school & bring me back home because it wasn’t open yet and I’d be waiting there outside the entrance anxious for school to begin.

Moreover, my fixation on being informed comes from some inner force that is beyond my control like a drug that always beckons me and which I have no control over. I seek understanding about how the world is organized & run because it is an elaborate mystery that intrigues me. Boredom is another key ingredient in my fascination with the truth behind the official propaganda known as the nightly news. Have you noticed the gradual blurring of the lines between what used to be strictly news and the ever growing popularity of “entertainment?” I may sound like an old curmudgeon but when I hear newscasters slip into the daily reporting without any segway, who won last night’s competition on American Idol, I am taken aback & say to myself “This is ‘news?’ It’s no wonder we rank so low in terms of literacy amongst the ‘developed nations.’

Admittedly, ego is a major motivator as well. When you have been labeled a loser, a quitter, not ambitious, etc. and have even lost girlfriends whom you loved all because you weren’t ‘ambitious’ enough, your ego is desperate for praise or a reassurance. For example, I kept dropping out of community colleges for several years in my twenties and again, ‘friends’ & family wrote me off as a quitter, loser, or unable to complete or stick to anything. It didn’t occur to them that because I was reading at the eleventh grade, sixth month level when I was in the sixth grade & was promised the moon by some high ranking officers in the U.S. Army (along with a handful of other guys from my company) if I’d go to Officer Candidate School because I had scored so high on their tests, that I wasn’t playing the ‘game,’ not because I couldn’t or wasn’t qualified but because I was smart & knew it was a scam.

Another way of looking at my preoccupation with politics is that I have a real or true patriotism, and I’m not a ‘sunshine patriot’ as Thomas Paine so eloquently put it e.g. the shallow & simplistic wearing of U.S. flags in one’s lapels as a declaration of your patriotism. No, the true patriots, in my opinion, are those who dare to criticize & hold our government accountable for all its actions and refuse to turn a blind eye to the dastardly deeds done in our name. It’s obviously much easier to go along with the majority in their unthinking repetition of what the lying politicians & television pundits say. But, to disagree especially after such a horrific event as September 11th, takes real courage & is true patriotism. Maybe the fact that I came so close to possibly being shipped out to Vietnam in 1971 when I was in the army, and all the waste & stupidity that I witnessed the 6 months I was a ‘good’ soldier, also gave me the courage to take my stand against the war machine? Unless you’ve been in the U.S. military and especially at the ripe, naïve young age of 18 or 19, you have no idea of just how frightening it was to refuse to go along with the program.

As a result of growing up poor & having felt and experienced the betrayal, humiliation, etc. of being kept down all my life due to my economic background, I have had a particularly vengeful attitude towards all those in power over us whether in the business or the political world. I have worked in factories where the owners would come through with perspective investors & they wouldn’t even acknowledge my or other worker’s presence. Yet, I’ve been at parties where I crossed paths with wealthy individuals and they were amazed at my knowledge. I was going to argue that knowledge is my weapon of choice but I don’t think that’s true because I really don’t have any other options or choices in terms of fighting back against my & our oppressors.

For example, I can now look back & piece things together and I’ve come to the conclusion that part of what saved me psychologically from the abusive ‘step fathers’ I had to endure as I grew up, was my ability to escape into the world of books. Let me reiterate that I am not seeking sympathy in an attempt to cloud your judgement regarding my ‘obsession.’ I am sincerely trying to explain to you as well as to myself, why I am so addicted to politics. My grama gave me the greatest gift when she took me to the Salem Public Library & helped me get my first library card when I was in the second grade & when she also gave me the independence of showing me how to find my way to the library by looking up for the statue of the gold man on the top of our state capitol’s building. That wonderful woman gave me the tools & the trust to go downtown to the library, to the Toyland store, to the movies, etc. on my own. As a matter of fact, I have an old newspaper clipping my mom saved that shows me deeply engrossed in a book about airplanes when a new wing was added to the Salem, Oregon public library. ( I look particularly goofy because I’m wearing some dorky glasses & have my coat & a hat on which has ear flaps. Books opened a fantasy world to me that made me think I could do or be anything because they unleashed my imagination. I feel sorry for the kids of today (I work in the public schools) because they seem to seriously lack imagination as illustrated when they are asked to do any kind of creative writing. A simplistic perspective perhaps, but I think their lack of imagination may have to do with the fact that they have been constantly entertained by T.V., video games, etc. since they were born and they rarely have had to fall back on their own creative or imaginative resources. As I was growing up, we built tree forts, had dirt-clod wars, went exploring on our bikes, etc. & today’s children have been spoon-fed on an electronic, ever increasingly technologically sophisticated stream of toys & gadgets.

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