Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just What Is Politics Anyways?

A political debate at Thanksgiving this year sparked my thoughts as to the exact nature of political debate. I remember nights spent drinking and debating issues like the war on drugs with my friends. I always thought of these as political debates and things would usually get pretty heated. (If anyone is curious to know, I'd always seem to lose everyone who might have leaned to my side when I'd say that heroin should be legalized - funny that.) One thing I always enjoyed with my friends is that we didn't get bogged down in partisan nonsense - it's actually a good thing about the war on drugs, because it's the sort of issue that cleaves across party lines. But Thanksgiving was different - this debate was purely partisan, completely partisan at the expense of ideas.

While I am interested in the horse race nature of politics, I rarely have a horse in that race. I know I can't count on Democrats or Republicans to advance an agenda I care about, so I can just sit back in watch. While I understand the desire to have one's own side win, I'm still baffled at times by the way that the liberal/conservative, Republican/Democrat divide just dominates political debate. Tonight became an argument about which side is worse, which politicians did which slimy things, and whether or not Fox News is slanted right while other networks are slanted left. My answer to each topic would be, both sides are pretty bad, politics is a nasty business, and who cares what point of view media outlets take when we have so many options to chose from.

I never really thought about it to much before tonight, but as a libertarian it's the sort of thing that just gets to me. I'm really interested in issues- dismissing some of the stupid things that people tend to get worked up about and getting down to the nitty gritty of real problems that need to be addressed. And partisan bickering just takes away from that. Both sides of this liberal/conservative divide like to point out media biases, but I wonder if either side realizes that this focus on character assassination and demonizing the other side only serves to reinforce the existing power structure that is the two-party system. Until people can see beyond the bi-polar debate, I don't think there's a chance of changing much of anything in this political world of ours,

Let me also just add, I love my buddy John (and by the way, check out his new blog, McBlog, which focuses on sports, culture, and entertainment) because he's a conservative with strong points of view who doesn't get caught up in any of this nonsense. I'm not saying that liberals and conservatives don't have ideas that aren't worth hearing- I'm only saying that even if your political views seem to fit comfortably into one side of the bi-polar debate, focus on ideas, not nonsense.


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