Politics as personal: Why irrational behavior has poisoned the political waters

Too often the political discussion is reduced to a cacophonous jumble of charts, numbers, polling data and political jargon.

We see politicians use it in campaign rhetoric, media use it for stories, even people on Facebook and Twitter when they try and make their political arguments.

I want to set that aside for a moment, because I think it’s important we remember something: politics is personal. Our government is personal.

Yes, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, so when your side does something great, or the other side does something heinous, speak up.

However, so much of the data we have as part of our political narrative is useless to the average person. Who cares what the unemployment numbers say?

Is it harder for you and I to get a job today than it was three years ago?

What does your savings look like?

I never begrudged the union members around the country fighting to keep their cushy benefits and double-dip pensions. If I had their job, I can’t say I wouldn’t want to keep those same things.

Politics is personal.

To act rationally, is to act in your own self-interest.

I think that is what liberals don’t get. They become so engulfed in their first world guilt, so blinded with their perceived need to serve the under-served, that they forget to serve themselves, and by extension the majority of people in the country.

They forget to act rationally because they’re so misguided by this notion that government is the solution, when government has always been a bigger impediment to growth and prosperity than a driving force.

Certainly, not every policy to help the poor and disenfranchised inherently also negatively impacts the rest of us. But if you look at the left’s petulance regarding Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, they’ve become so unwilling to “take from the poor,” that they’re going to bankrupt the system so that none of us can benefit from it.

There are people out there who need help, people who can’t get it on their own, people who can’t help themselves. They need our help, but that help can’t be done by disregarding everyone else.

If you remember politics is personal, to everyone, maybe you’ll remember that gas prices affect everything we do, every cost we incur. When food prices go up as they have, they go up for everyone.

That’s why a medical system that forces people to pay to take care of people at the margins, only creates new margins and a resulting new group of people who can’t afford to pay.

Politics isn’t about an ideology. It isn’t about numbers or data or figures or charts or graphs or approval ratings.

Government serves the people. It affects each of us in important ways, ways that are integral to the fabric of our society.

Regardless of whether or not you think taxes are too high or too low, what do you get from them? How do they serve you? It’s not selfish to expect that you get some kind of return on your tax dollars because that’s what you pay for.

That doesn’t mean you should expect rent assistance, or food stamps, or medical insurance. But you should expect to have a government listen to your concerns and act in the best interest of the people. But how can they do that if you haven’t thought about how your government interacts with you?

How can the government respond to you if you don’t even know what kind of return you’re getting from your own tax dollars?

In fact, if more people expected a return on their tax dollars, demanded accountability from a government that has lost the idea that a government only draws power from the will of the people to be governed, we’d have a better government.

We don’t have a better government because we haven’t demanded one.

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One thought on “Politics as personal: Why irrational behavior has poisoned the political waters

  1. shellybernal says:

    Absolutely – we don’t have a better government because we haven’t demanded one. We must no longer sit on the sidelines and bark complaints, but engage directly in the politics and influence improvement.

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