My parents have strong, and wildly differing, political opinions. Mom is a democrat like Grandpa, and Dad a staunch republican. By the time I was old enough to understand words, the battle lines had long-since been drawn and everybody knew it was an area of topics to avoid. On the rare occasions someone did light the fuse of political conversation, the resulting powder keg would explode in a wonderfully terrible exchange that usually ended in my parents being in a foul mood and getting quickly annoyed with the kids. We eventually had a dinnertime rule that no politics were allowed at the table. No way, no how. So, I avoided politics as a young’un.
Fast forward a bit to my late teens. I was full of opinions on every subject under the sun, and I would spout them off to anyone who dared to challenge me. Still though, politics didn’t hold my interest. I’m sure, given the chance, I would have loved to berate someone for not agreeing with my un-informed but passionate opinion, but the circles I ran with weren’t into politics either… so it didn’t come up. With the “no politics” rule still in effect at home, it was simply left off my radar.
Fast forward again to my mid twenties. I was slightly more mature and able to keep a lid on my vast collection of moderately informed opinions. I was extremely interested and opinionated about social & political issues, but had no knowledge or interest in the actual process by which they are addressed. I rarely, if ever, approached a conversation about such things though, because I was living and working in a state and an industry where the vast majority of people strongly disagreed with my leanings. So I kept things bottled up for the most part and life went on.
So looking back on the last 10-15 years of my life, I can count the number of “political” conversations I engaged in on one hand.
So, what’s all this then?
About two weeks ago I was running some errands and stewing about some work stress. I decided to flip on the radio to give my brain something new to process. After some seeking and fumbling, I landed on a political talk program. I don’t remember who was talking, or the specifics of what was said, but I returned home absolutely incensed by the ridiculous ramblings I heard. The main theme was basically “the other team is stupid, and they only want to ruin America”. Now, I know this is no different than what is said every day on every political program in the universe, and I should just expect it… but something just switched inside my head on this particular day. The childish bickering over who was more right between two parties who basically act the same no matter what their talking points are just sent me over the edge. I became irate.
I pulled into my driveway muttering obscenities and ready to spit nails. I stomped into my office preparing to have a big debate, or write a very strongly worded letter or just… just scream at my computer screen. Then I stopped, looked around a bit, and realized I had absolutely nowhere to direct this new-found political energy. Needing some kind of outlet, I decided I’d stop sticking my head in the sand and learn about what was annoying me.
I started reading, and watching, and asking. Anything and anyone who would help. I’m diving into current policies and historical causes. I’m researching the people who represent me, and the people who make up the party they serve (yeah, you read that right). I even got annoyed enough to show up to the state capitol one early morning for a Senate Committee Meeting on the current redistricting happening here in Utah.
So here we are friends. I’m a 30 year old man who is suddenly, but whole heartedly interested and ready to get personally involved in the political process. I don’t know how long it will last, or just how involved I will get. But I think things are broken, and I’m not about to whine about it if I’m not willing to step up and be a force to fix it.
I’m sure there will be more to come on the subject, so stay tuned.