As the presidential elections are in the beginning stages of the primaries, we’re moving past a slow simmer and the bubbles are rising to the surface. Soon the nominees for the Coke and Pepsi parties will be determined and the election cycle will kick into a rolling boil.
Since we live in a polarized political landscape where independent’s day never seems to come, the air will be roiling with the rhetoric of choosing sides. The supporters of primary candidates that now lay among the detritus of also-rans will sigh with great resignation and band arms against the Godzilla of the opposing political party. Portcullises will be lowered, moats will be dug, boiling oil will be poured down from embrasures to ensure the enemy does not win the election.
This makes me crazy. Every single presidential election cycle there’s a segment of potentially disgruntled voters spreading portents of how life will end as we know it if the opposing candidate gets into office. The defeated candidate they had supported will part the Great Lakes and their constituents will make their Exodus into the Great White North. America will descend into chaos, the ground will open up and swallow the consituents who practice idolatry before the worst president in history.
Once the styrofoam hats of party conventions lay broken on the floor and the inaugural dresses have all been sent to the dry cleaners, we find the redwoods are still standing. They are still selling Pringles. Brady Bunch reruns are still in syndication. The Knicks are still playing. We go on with our lives. There may be some shifts in the economic landscape, some for better, some for worse, but Zombie Nero has not taken over the presidency. Well, the same Zombie justices are still there for the most part… maybe the political ideology on one side of the seesaw got a fatter kid.
What makes me crazy about this reaction to your man or woman not getting to sit in the big chair is that we seem to think the outcome of our personal futures is based on who is president of the United States. Yes, I said in my recent post that I believe that allowing corporations to basically create U.S. laws to their exclusive benefit is toxic, but at the end of the day we still have personal choices. Some of them may have become squeezed or encumbered or restrained or even limited, but we still have them. We are still the architects of our own lives. We still choose what to eat and where to work and how to raise our children and how to spend our free time.
There is power when individuals discover that no one is coming to rescue them – that if they don’t do something different, nothing in their life is going to get better. When that thought connects, it’s electrifying . A lot of people turn their lives around in quite marvelous and exciting ways, simply because they decided to stop waiting for help.
– Nathaniel Branden, The Psychology of Self-Esteem
I’m not so naive to think that a poorly chosen candidate can’t do some damage. I am saying that the damage can’t really be so great that we no longer have any control over the direction of our own lives. I believe this because we can still vote. We still have a voice in our election system. If that voice seems to be getting drowned out by the din of lobbyists and gerrymanderers, it is an indication we need to turn up our own volumes and consider more carefully the voting choices we have been making. For those who believe we become powerless at the hands of a single political party, they are only correct by virtue of believing it.