Still Don’t Have the Urge to Suck on the Politics Pipe
by Debra DeAngelo
“The Express has gotten boring!” declared my biggest fan as she stormed into the office and strode right up to my nose. “You need to start writing about politics again!”
If we were both men and it had been another point in time, she might have thumped her forefinger right into my chest.
I explained to this feisty firecracker, who’s a coupla decades or so my senior, that I swore off politics as my New Year’s resolution. I only skim it from time to time, to stay aware enough of the political antics as is necessary to be a responsible citizen, but that’s about it. I’ve put politics on the same shelf as the weather — aware of it, but not paying too much attention to it unless it impacts my daily life.
But, why, grumbled Shirley, clearly exasperated with my apathy. “We’re in this war in Libya now, and it’s just despicable!”
I pointed out to her that it didn’t really matter what I wrote about Libya. We’d still be at war, regardless of anything I had to say about it, and it would go on whether I approved or not. I’m totally powerless over this, or any other thing that happens on Capitol Hill.
“But you’re not,” she insisted. And then pointed out that writing about these things fires people up and gets them involved.
And this helps… how?
This changes anything… how?
I told her that after years of foaming at the mouth and stamping my feet and shouting from my tiny soapbox, I’ve realized – and resigned myself – to the fact that my sum total impact on every political twist and turn that’s ever taken place in Washington is, exactly, zero. Wasted energy. Wasted time. Wasted newsprint.
“It’s not true,” she implored. “You do have an impact!”
I was touched, really, that she believed in me like this. I remember when I believed in me like that. I still believe in myself, of course. But not in my far-reaching ability to sway national politics. I just believe in myself as just me.
I’m no longer interested in shaking my pom-poms for the Blue team. I’ve turned in my short skirt and Sketchers. Somebody else can take my place on the squad. I’m not interested in the game anymore. We got a star quarterback in 2008, and I thought it would be a game-changer. But no, not even he could change the nature of the game. And the nature of the game is that it’s not about the players, or the teams, or the fans in the stands. It’s about the owners of the teams – the corporations. And they’re not in it for our benefit. They’re in it for profit. Period.
All that hubbub down on the field? You and I hear cheering, the corporations hear ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching. I’ve decided that the only way I can have any impact on the game is to walk out of the stands and refuse to come back. Spend my time and money on something else. Anything else.
Shirley, who’s a life-long die-hard Democrat and who accompanied me to my first anti-war protest just before the Iraq war, was simply beside herself to hear that I’ve left the political stadium. I suspect she was a bit disgusted that I’m enjoying the flowers and sunshine on the grounds outside like a useless, selfish slacker. What good is writing a column if it’s not about politics, she asked me. What’s left without that?
“My sanity,” I told her. Serenity. Peace of mind. An exploration of other things in life besides adding fuel to the senseless, pointless, perpetual Red Team/Blue Team football game, wherein the fans have the illusion that one side or the other will win, when in fact there is only one side – that of the corporations that own the teams, and they will always win. Always. I don’t have any control over any of it. But I do have control over the choices I make. At least in that, there’s satisfaction.
I can honestly say that spending as little psychological energy as possible on politics for the last couple months was enlightening. And astonishingly easy. It turns out the crack wasn’t that hard to kick. Of course, the end of Keith Olbermann’s “Countdown” program, ironically within days of my swearing off politics, didn’t hurt. The temptation to just take a little peek was removed: “Just take a little hit – I can handle it. I can quit any time I want. It’s just one little hit.” As any addict will tell you… pure denial. One hit is too much and ten isn’t enough.
What little politics I follow these days comes mostly from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert – nuggets of truth, polished up with biting wit, sarcasm and humor. It puts politics in its proper perspective: Entertainment. And nothing more.
Will I pick up that politics pipe again? Who knows. If Sarah Palin wins the Republican nomination, I may not be able to stifle myself.
On the other hand… why waste the energy. The time. The newsprint. If she’s the next president, at least I’ll have an advantage over the 49 percent of the population that’s shocked, horrified, and contemplating suicide or emigration: I’ll have had plenty of practice at walking away and just enjoying the flowers.