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May 17, 2005
What's the Problem?

I wonder what's wrong with people, anyhow? Are we all really this cynical, or is everyone really just too worried about making it home quickly through rush-hour traffic to understand how federal policies affect them?

Speaking from my own memories of those long years when I was largely apolitical, I'd say it's both.

People are cynical. They've come to look on fraud, lies, and corruption from government as a matter of course. Today's generation had Vietnam, Richard Nixon, Iran-Contra, and Ronald Reagan. They're quite used to hearing they're being led by corrupt and dishonest politicians.

And they're largely indifferent to things that happen in D.C. Maybe because of those years of fraud and lies.

As I think I said before, I have a friend for whom it's always culture shock to visit any part of the USofA west of the Appalachians. She comes from the DC-MD area and where she lives, the doings of the federal government occupy the news every day, all day. When she comes out West, she complains that it's as if Washington barely exists. She can't find what she thinks of as "the news" anywhere.

So...do people west of Virginia not know or care about DC, so the regional media doesn't bother to cover it?

Or do people west of Virginia not know or care about DC because the regional media doesn't bother to cover it?

Granted, understanding the ins and outs of our Federal government is complicated. Is it the news media's responsibility to give us enough facts to educate us, or is it our responsibility to demand the facts so we can understand what's going on?

What came first? The media's censorship or our apathy?

I'm afraid the truth has to be Door #2. The media will cover whatever sells newspapers and gets viewers to turn to their channel on the television. If they're not covering the Feds, it's because the audience isn't interested.

So...when did we become uninterested? Was it, again, Vietnam and Nixon? Did people my age and those just a few years older "tune out" because they learned to distrust the federal government then and the Reagan years only confirmed our contempt?

If we'd gotten an honest, principled, straightforward administration in the 80s instead of the Iran-Contra Boys and Supply-Side Economists, would my generation have eased themselves back into the fold and tentatively reached out to be a part of the political process again?

Are we now so far out of the foreign policy and domestic situation that few of us have either the time or the inclination to try and pick up the threads?

I know I've spent three years on this political blog. During that time it's been a lot of work to go back and learn what happened during the years I was napping. It's been hard to pull together the threads, difficult to remember major events in the climate of the times in which they occurred. And I know I have a lot more time to spend on figure out what's been going on in the last 25 years than 90% of my contemporaries have. Expecting more than one in a million to do this isn't reasonable.

And yet, you do have to pay attention, to all of the major points of view. Opinions formed from listening to one side of the story are like opinions formed in a vacuum, neither balanced nor sensible.

So how do we convince them, that majority of the population who are some kind of Democrat, from "conservative democrat" to "liberal" to step back in and make their voices felt?

How do we explain to them that if we stand up to be counted, Democrat politicians, like any other, will court the voter base they can see?

Or, as the so-called Party leadership is thinking, do they start by restructuring the Party and hope they get it right and then all of those voters will come back on their own?

I have a lot of questions. If I were smarter, I might also have some answers.

I guess the best thing I can suggest is that we do both. Politicians know the "political reality" of how things work in Washington. Voters know what they care about. Everyone has to stand up and state their position.

Then the politicians can work to help us create the country we want to live in. (We can find different politicians. They'd have a harder time finding a new continent of different voters.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:37 PM