I used to be a political junkie, getting my fix under the delusion that the fate of the world rested on the outcome on an election. I was particularly obsessed about the N.H. primary.
With the 2012 N.H. primary taking place today, I must confess: Never have I cared so little or felt so unrepresented. But this isn’t a post about gloom and doom or the fall of America.
It’s simply about the realization that we sometimes look for our saviors in the wrong places.
As I said, the fate of the world always seemed to hang on the next election. In 1994, when I was a lot more liberal than I am today, I felt devastated and depressed when the GOP swept both chambers of Congress. Two years before that, when Bill Clinton was elected president, I thought all would be right with the world. A lot of people had the same emotional jolt almost four years ago when Obama was elected.
But, you see, I’ve found in more recent years that my personal happiness has absolutely nothing to do with which way the political winds are blowing. What says it all are the lyrics from the Avett Brothers song “Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise” —
When nothing is owed, deserved or expected
And you’re life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If your loved by someone you’re never rejected.
Decide what to be and go be it.
My life has taken turns for the better and worse regardless of who is in office. Government can’t change me. Only I can.
I’ve also realized that politicians will fail us every time. Everyone thought Obama would close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and reverse policies where innocent people were detained for years without trial or explanation, then he turns around and signs an unconstitutional defense bill that gives the government power to do more of the same.
The field of Republican candidates, meanwhile, show no promise. It’s just more of the same, in my opinion.
We don’t know how this election year will turn out, but I do know plenty of things for certain:
1.) The most important parts of my life — family, control over my addictions and managing my mental ticks — are all things I can influence for better or worse. Who goes to Washington is irrelevant in those affairs.
2.) Politics to me is a game, like football. I never cared much for football.
3.) We all have far more control over our own lives than we think. Those of us lucky enough to realize that become increasingly disinterested in the political game.
I do admit that I may have swung too far in the apathetic direction. Maybe some day I’ll find national politics important again. It will never be the way it was. But maybe I’ll find a middle ground.
But not today.
You want change? Be the change. Work on the problems that hold you back. Work on being a better spouse, parent, friend and colleague.
When you can do that, you’ll brighten more lives than you ever thought possible.