Thursday, October 9, 2008

... On Politics

Hello. This is Alan's page. Nicole took a look at the post below and banned it from the proper 'Hansen' page. So I was forced to publish it under another heading. I'm thinking you'll agree with her.

Anywho being the season that it is, I thought I would add something to the political landscape. I have taken the liberty of presenting my 2 cents in a format that could be easily adapted by any of you as you form an opinion about the upcoming election. So:

Whoever is reading this, I think that you would be a/an [insert upgraded derogatory label; 'absolute fool' and 'total jerk' are common] if you vote for [insert candidate you hate; CH for short]. It should be obvious to you that [insert CH] is too [insert a weakness of the CH; 'old' and 'inexperienced' are popular right now, not to mention the stand-by 'liberal' and 'conservative'] to do the job adequately, not to mention his being far too [insert an obtuse gloss for CH; lacking a useful term, 'liberal' or 'conservative,' again, will suffice] in his policies and decisions. As for Senate voting records, it is clear that [insert CH] has been [insert negative descriptor; choose from 'inconsistent' on the moderate side to 'terrible' to really bring home the point] in his [choose between 'support' and 'opposition'] of [insert program or policy you feel is very important]. If [insert CH] manages to win this election, then the [insert demeaning label for people you most hate and/or are most afraid of] will run our country. In addition, [insert CH]'s ties to [insert a hated person or group you would like to link to the CH; 'George Bush' and 'terrorists' are common choices these days] make it clear that this man simply must not be elected president. It is also clear that we cannot trust the media to portray [insert candidate you like; CL for short] in an accurate light, except perhaps for [insert your preferred news network; 'Fox' and 'CNN' are common choices with NPR running a strong third]. I promise you, if [insert CH] wins this election, this country will go [insert a phrase which includes a place you despise and/or are afraid of; 'right in the crapper' and 'straight to hell' are popular choices]. I cannot believe that you, as a/an [insert a demographic characteristic; race, religion, and gender all have been used effectively here] could possibly vote for [insert CH]. Go [insert CL]! [Insert CL's catch-phrase; 'change is coming' and 'drill baby, drill' are prominent]!

With the above I don't mean to make light of the upcoming election or to offend anyone. While in prior elections the former was more common, in this election the latter seems to be gaining ground. (Maybe I'm paying more attention myself and am just starting to notice all of these angry, hurt and offended people walking around.) Tensions certainly seem to be running higher than normal in some cases anyway in the Church I belong to - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Members of LDS congregations consider themselves brothers and sisters as a matter of doctrine and generally treat one another accordingly as an application of that belief. However, issues surrounding this election seems to have eroded some of the goodwill and fellowship, at least in some quarters. It's unfortunate, particularly considering the official stance of the LDS Church regarding politics - which is fervently neutral (here's a link to an official statement). As I understand it, the Church encourages its members to be involved in local and national elections as responsible citizens and to "engage in the political process in an informed and civil manner" (okay, I quoted that part). Our Church leaders essentially have counseled us to prayerfully consider candidates and to vote for the one we think would do the best job, given the issues as we understand them.

As I see it (and this is my most well-formed opinion on politics - perhaps my only one - so get ready!), partisanship (which carries seeds of fandom, even fanaticism) is the biggest stumbling block in all of government. (Symptoms include: the single best predictor of how a U.S. senator or representative will vote is political party affiliation; candidates spend more time talking about their opponents' positions than their own.) From my perch the citizenry of this great nation has also fallen into the trap of partisanship. "What" and "why" matter very little in relation to "who," and the torch most people carry for their political party leaves little room to carry our country's flag. And blah, blah, blah. Boy, I should have stopped a few paragraphs ago.