For most of my adult life, I have heard ad nauseam whenever the subject of politics came up, “I’m not interested in politics,” or “I don’t care about politics.” And I must confess that up until Ronald Reagan became president, I too, didn’t care about politics. As the featured image above reflects, this could be our future if we don’t stop entertaining ourselves to death. Trump & the other dictators around the world only succeed when their citizens sit silently by. “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” (Thomas Jefferson)
Perhaps my trips to Europe had something to do with my awakening, and the fact that, as a college counselor pointed out, most students don’t get serious about college until they’re around 27 or 28 years old? This meeting with the college counselor was amusing because I’d been attending community colleges for several years and all of a sudden, they figured I needed counseling? The counselor asked my age & I told him that I was 27. He then said “yeah, we’ve found that our best students are usually about 27 or 28 because by the time they have reached this age, they have had several dead-end jobs & realize that they’d better get serious about getting a good education if they want a shot at a good career.
I had been to Europe three times when Reagan first took office. And one of the things that struck me on my visits to Europe was the fact that it was very common for people—young and old—to have long, heated debates on politics. My friends in L.A., and just about everyone I met in my travels up and down the West coast of America, usually only talked about money, cars, sports, & women. In fact, there is somewhat of a social taboo regarding discussing religion & politics in taverns in America. Isn’t this strange in a country that is quick to boast about our freedom of speech? Could it be that just underneath this thin, veneer of friendliness & civility that we like to portray, is an ugly and ignorant cauldron of intolerance, hatred, & racism amongst other things?
To return to why I became interested in politics upon Reagan’s presidency, he said & initiated so many spooky things that it’s hard to select just one but here’s an example. My wife and I were on our honeymoon in Paris & a reporter, who identified himself as the “Dan Rather of Czechoslovakia,” & his cameraman approached us & asked our opinion on Reagan’s recent speech regarding the possibility of fighting a “limited nuclear war” in Europe.
I said that Reagan scares the hell out of me & I think he’s a moron! The reporter thanked me and said that he was somewhat relieved because the American couple he had interviewed just before us, had said that they thought fighting a limited nuclear war in Europe was a fine idea. The ignorance in America is truly frightening, and especially so when you consider that we are the most powerful nation on earth. And I never realized just how truly ignorant we are, as a whole, until I started visiting Europe & getting a much wider perspective of my country.
Furthermore, I can remember my feeling of embarrassment when I met my friend, Ruedi, who is a Swiss citizen, and after spending a week hanging out with him, realized that he knew more about American history, literature, politics, philosophy, etc., than I did! And amongst my friends in L.A., I was considered to be pretty intelligent. Yeah, right! Well, since those days, and with Ruedi serving as my inspiration & unofficial mentor, I have become obsessed with politics & read hundreds of books, essays, newspaper stories, magazine articles, etc., on the subject. And recently this insight came to me regarding the typical, apathetic “I’m not interested in politics” or “There’s nothing we can do.”
One of the simplest definitions of politics is that it’s about the study of power i.e. how to get it & how to keep it. And of course, the gaining & maintaining of power is to a large extent about economics or wealth. In fact, I heard somewhere that politics & economics used to be taught as one and the same subject in universities but somewhere along the line, it was divided into two separate subjects. That brings up some interesting questions but that’s for another time & essay. So, politics is about power & wealth. It’s not mere coincidence that the majority of politicians are lawyers. They are lawyers because they know that those who run the legal system i.e. the law game, gain access to the reins of power because they have people’s lives in their hands & when people are facing prison time, they’ll pay almost anything to stay out of jail. And as lawyers, they can worm their ways up to becoming judges & politicians who interpret & write the laws which affect not only the ordinary citizens but also the corporations. Naturally, the corporations pay handsomely to have the laws written & interpreted in ways that are favorable to them.
People who say they aren’t interested in politics, speak & act like politics is something that is outside their lives, something vague or abstract, and something which they have absolutely no control, no influence, & no stake in. And they couldn’t be more wrong! To say they aren’t interested in politics is tantamount to saying they don’t care whether their pension plan is stolen by their corporation’s executives. It’s to say that they don’t care if their health insurance is taken away by politicians or greedy, corporate officers. It’s to say that they don’t mind if their homes are foreclosed on. It’s to say that it wouldn’t bother them if Social Security was privatized & opened up to the stock market sharks & frauds. It’s to say that the fact that their children have received a pathetic, public education is of no consequence to them. It’s to say that the fact that corporations are given tax breaks for closing their plants here in America & going overseas & that they may lose their jobs is no big deal!
Moreover, because politics is about power and those who wield it, to say you don’t care about politics is akin to saying that you don’t care who has power over you. Therefore, by this logic, it wouldn’t matter if Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, etc., were our leader. If so, then why are we fighting in Iraq? Wasn’t one of Bush’s justifications for our invasion, the removal of a terrible tyrant? By the way, this was a total sham because we are supporting dozens of bloody dictators around the globe and have done so for decades.
In conclusion, and I know this is going to sound very harsh but it is long past the time for politeness because we, and the rest of the world, are in very serious danger & we need to be honest with ourselves and stop letting the bastards get away with their murderous deeds!
To say you are helpless, don’t care, or aren’t interested in politics in this terrible time is in effect saying that you don’t care if your son, your daughter, your father, your mother, your brother, or your sister are maimed or killed in a war that was initiated by a pack of liars in order to enrich themselves & their cronies. And if you look close enough, you’ll see that the war isn’t only in Iraq, no, the power elite are waging a war on us right here in America. The Patriot Act & Homeland Security are the legal disguises they are using. Our Bill of Rights has been shredded. We are in effect becoming prisoners in a police state called Fortress America! Go ahead, write me off as just another nut case. But you can’t say that you haven’t been warned. Check it out for yourself. Or are you too afraid? Or are you simply too lazy? We still have a chance to turn things around but time is running out. United we stand and divided we fall!
—Rob DeLoss, May 11, 2007