• 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.

    • Oh Debra, I totally understand and relate. I was whipped into such a frenzy during the 2008 campaign that I lost a friend (sad but necessary. He was a mormon who believed my gay brothers were doomed to hell) and almost lost my mind. I feel much calmer with Obama in office. I trust his decisions even though they wouldn’t necessarily be mine. At least he’s intelligent, well informed and rational.

      I just can’t let myself get angry anymore. I do still watch Rachel, though. We’ll see how we both feel when the 2012 campaigns get rolling. Bet you’ll relapse.

    • I so agree with this Debra. Facebook, Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow are my only sometimes companions. I, too have let go. I can’t argue anymore. The corporations and their greed have beat me down too. I now just sit back and try and keep my mouth shut. More than not it works for me with the occasional outburst. I feel your calm and I hopefully, am getting there as well.

    • Yup, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are all the politics I need!

      • Judy

      • April 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm
      • Reply

      Beautifully written, Debra. But perhaps a lot of us are resting. That’s how I like to think about it. Resting up. I send money and sign petitions but most of me is taking a time out. Not forever, though. I can see a burst of energy down the road. (Resting is good for that.)

      • Sherlie Magers

      • April 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm
      • Reply

      Debra excellent as usual! I have a seceret: I’ve been a news junkie for ever so long and try to walk away…The only thing I can say in my defence is I have watched All the news stations for more than 10yrs. They are all just different takes on the Soap Opera of what politics have become in our country! Question???? Do I watch out of Fear? I think I’ll QUIT! Thanks you are helping me take a stand!

    • Debra,
      Hey, I thought I was your biggest fan! I have to comment on the fighting in Lybia. This is no common military action. This conflict is deserving of our attention for it concerns the struggle of common men facing a huge military machine for basic human rights. Unlike past military conflicts, this action was not built on lies and deception. Bush and Obama are two distinctly different personalities. The former, a liar, a theif, a racist, and a puppet of big business. The latter, Obama, is an honest, open, and as close to a saint as a president can be. This action is a big step forward as a UN sanctioned confilct established to advance the rights of man against tyrrany and oppression. It is essential that we participate in such vital struggles for human rights but it is also essential that it is done in a lawfull and ethical manner. No conflict as worthy of our military might has occured since WWII, the world will be watching how we practice what we preach. Debra, this is worthy of a few sentences on your part. I’m shaking my finger (the one next to my thumb) at you and your friend Shirley. Let’s get with it. Shirley is right, you need to stand up like a woman and tell the men what to do. If you don’t WW III is around the corner and it will be your fault-Shirley’s too!
      Your biggest fan’

      • Sherlie Magers

      • April 5, 2011 at 12:42 pm
      • Reply

      Nice to meet you! I do not believe in standing up as a woman to tell men what to do. In my mind, every person has a personal and social responability, they must live with while applying their own ethics and morals. I can clearly see how high the stakes are in Lybia. I’m very skeptical that “we” will practice what we preach…And I think it matters NOT who our president is,right now. I will not take on the burden of WW III as it will, or will not occur with, or without me! These are the times that will try men’s and women’s souls…My nephew, three days ago left for his 3rd tour duty in the Middle East,this time he is on his way to Afghanistan. For me watching “the news” only leads to a sense of helplessness that makes me consider purchasing a shotgun…Just in case…Oops now I’ve said it…

      • Kelvin

      • April 5, 2011 at 3:35 pm
      • Reply

      I miss you out there in the trenches. But I get it. I’m there. I’ve fought the good fight. But the game has gotten nastier. And after a while, it seems that you’re just preaching to the choir. And while I love cheers and adulation as much as anyone (okay, a little bit more than anyone else), I’d like to actually have a dialogue. When suddenly you realize that you’re just a cog in a wheel of this vast game of two sides talking past each other, it seems pointless. Now and then I’ll throw my two cents in but the urge is great to just step back from it. I love politics. But I’m less depressed when I’m not following it. As you can see, I really could relate to this column. Beautifully written. Well said.

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