I am trying not to post so much about politics. My frustration with what I view as poor long term decision-making by many Americans has turned into apathy. I am trying to console myself with the fact that it probably won’t make much of any difference in my life who is actually the next President of the United States. Unfortunately, the second that I almost seem to convince myself of that fact, I am hit with a panic attack, because what if I am wrong?
I think most Americans, rightfully so, are so tired with the failed policies of the Bush Administration, that they are looking for anyone to lead us away from that, and so I can see how they might gravitate toward the person that they view as the most empassioned voice. But my fear is that gravitation towards passion is what got us into this mess in the first place. Finding a scapegoat, finding someone to blame after September 11 and then being persuaded by empassioned speeches is what got us into trouble with Iraq. Putting easy answers (and easy money) before thoughtful reason about finances is what got so many Americans into trouble with subprime mortgages that led to this huge economic collapse. Overzealousness in believing that the housing boom could go on forever is what led so many Americans to take financial risks that perhaps were poor decisions in hindsight. In looking at the problems that we have created, I have a hard time seeing how the same attitudes will get us out of this mess. How do overzealous speeches, easy, non-substantive answers, and empassioned words solve our American dillemma? Why am I the only person in the room that thinks that we actually have to WORK hard and be pragmatic about solving our problems?
I worry about what I hear from the candidate who I think is responsible for this foray into foolishness. His ego seems to grow by the day. After winning in the Potomac Primaries, he basically said that Hillary Clinton was responsible for the economic downturn because she voted in support of the war. What? First of all, if defense spending is what is responsible for the economic downturn, then how could Senator Obama defend the fact that he has continually voted to fund the war since he has been in Congress? And secondly, is he really trying to turn the U.S. economy into something that simplistic? I guess he views the war as his strength (since he keeps preaching that he was against it from the beginning), and the economy as his weakness, so if he can link the two (and these days everyone is buying what he is selling), then voila, the presidency is his. Whether or not the two actually go together is another thing. Whether or not that addresses the fallout from the sub-prime lending crisis doesn’t matter. He gets to become president.
He is a master of making Americans feel like they are part of a grass-roots movement. But I am frightened by the fury of his supporters. I am frightened because I have studied enough history to know that this is how dictatorships are born. All of this nonsense about a post-partisan government that comes from his campaign scares me because to me, that sounds like the end of democracy. Perhaps this seems like an exaggerated fear, but I don’t know what to believe about him because I don’t think he has enough experience to really judge who he is. Many of his young supporters (and I see enough of them at the University of Washington to be concerned) seem to accept what he says as doctrine without doing any research behind his words to see if he is actually right or not. That open acceptance at face value, that lack of critical thinking, the lack of safeguards and checks and balances is what destroyed us under the Bush Administration. Now, it seems that the left is poised to do the same thing (not to mention the fact that since Obama has become quite the media darling, they seem unwilling to challenge him on much of anything). And as someone who values research and critical thinking, I am distressed because America appears to have learned nothing when it comes to being wary of hype.