In Which I Ascend a Soap-Box

In the first meeting of my American Political Process class last night, I learned that there is no specific “right to privacy” granted by the Constitution and that the Constitution makes three references to God or religion – one of those is merely the date: “in this one thousandth seven hundred seventy-sixth year of our Lord” or something like that.
I just think it’s interesting.
Also, this is something I knew already, but plenty of people don’t: the idea of “separation of church and state” was not established in the Constitution. That phrase was only first mentioned some time later in a letter from Thomas Jefferson (I think) to someone else.
People would do well to be knowledgeable rather than to subsist only on the regurgitated misinformation of both sides of the media. Generation after generation perpetuate half-truths and foundational lies until now we’re at a point where our collective understanding is too wobbly to stand on when asked to explain what we believe in. Or even if we can say, “I believe in a, b, and c and I think x, y, and z are secondarily important,” we often can’t definitively claim which political personality represents those values. I think there are several reasons – severe contradictions even inside party lines, apathy toward the system and the people, blind acceptance of hearsay as fact; aside from that last one, the worst is complacency.
I continue to encounter this burgeoning mindset of plodding on with whatever came before simply because it came before. Why do we not regularly reassess our personal values and allegiances? Why do we continue to vote a party just because we voted it last time? Rather than taking an analytical and deductive approach to each new candidate as an individual, we assume we know what a person stands for merely because we think we know what the D or the R stands for after his or her name. That brings me back to the wobbly collective understanding and the fact that the ideals of parties subtly change year after year, until 30 years have passed and you’re still voting R when in reality your ideals line up with the D, but you don’t know that because there is no reevaluation.
I think there is little to be done for the contradiction in values within party lines; we can not hope to convince the R that by building up military might, they are polarizing the other R goal of small federal government. Likewise, even with the D generally being anti-capital punishment, someone is still going to die under the umbrella of pro-choice.
There’s also the problem of apathy. It’s discouraging that people can’t bring themselves to an educated opinion – and therefore an educated vote – of anything because they wrongly believe it all has no effect on them; so why care? I personally see little difference in apathy and selfishness. Both of them stand on the premise that no one else’s situation matters as much as my own and so no action is required of me. Apathy can’t be blamed on party lines; it’s pervasive. But there again is little to be done about it.
I don’t know what can be done about the public’s penchant for believing every bit of spin from the radio waves and pulpits and I don’t know where liberals get theirs but I know they do. It doesn’t matter who you’re talking to, the conversation will die – or at the very least become an ineffectual monumental waste of time and breath – as soon as one person starts flinging partisan rhetoric. Those well-rehearsed parroted lines by the zealots on both sides do nothing to actually support the causes and issues for which each candidate stands. It only further polarizes Americans and entrenches them even more deeply in their separate ignorances.
Voters should read about their representatives, listen to their speeches and plans for the future, learn about their voting records, and decide how those measure up to their own values and societal ideals independently of talk radio, NPR, or their church pastor. At least that way, it’s honest.

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