I have a confession to make. It involves politicians.
I know what you’re thinking, and no, I am not having an affair with the president, a la Mimi Alford with JFK.
I’m not even speaking to Mr. Obama—admittedly, I never have. I have just begun reading about him, (and his future rivals,) and that in itself is enough to make the college student in me revolt in bewildered incomprehension at the pointlessness of it all.
Because why read about politics, when you could be playing beer pong, right?
Right. Except that each time I hear a staunch conservative arguing the merits of Gingrich or Romney I get the sneaking suspicion that they are just plain wrong, yet am too uninformed to articulate why. Enter “news”: the tearful end to my morning routine of Chai tea and Keats, in favor of black coffee and the New York Times. So that’s it, my true confession: I’ve begun waking up with politicians. They lie in wait as I slowly emerge from the innocent cocoon of sleep, cajoling me out into the world with cheerful good tidings like “this country sucks” and “America’s screwed.” The first thing I read when I awake in the morning, the last thing that crosses my mind as I drift off into sleep at night. Ignorance was truly bliss, and while I know the goal is to “joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world” all I really want to do after reading about them is fall back into bed and never again wake up.
Ignorant American being a term I absolutely abhor, however, I dutifully partook in the political debates each morning despite my aforementioned lack of interest. Depressing or no, I was determined to stay informed, cynicism be damned. And then Romney opened his mouth, along with all the other Republican candidates, and my determination began to waver.
When politicians today actually question the validity of a concrete fact like climate change, I cannot help but question the merit of actually engaging in all this thoughtless campaigning. The thing is, most people my age feel so far removed from politics that the thought of actually being able to affect them seems altogether far-fetched. And with political campaigns costing millions of dollars, how are we to feel that the government cares what we think, much less works to our actual benefit?
The line between ignorance and informed cynicism is a difficult one to cross, I have found, and once on the other side it is tricky if not impossible to go back. For now all I can say is that change will only remain further from our reach if we continue to ignore what is happening, so like it or not, the latter route of dutiful learning is the one we must take**.
*No one being that highly selective and important sect of society including but not limited to kombucha-drinking, shakti-tapping hippies, such as myself.
**While confirmation-bias is another form of ignorance, The Daily Show is altogether too genius to not have as a primary source of information. It also eases the throbbing stupidity of certain American politicians. Go watch it.