Apathy is not, has never been, and will never be sexy. This is not to say “being sexy” is of the utmost importance—rather, it is to highlight that you do not win any points for saying, “I hate politics.” In fact, it just shows that you aren’t willing to think hard enough about an issue, that you can’t be bothered to spend time reading the articles that may in fact cause you to care, and that perhaps you lack the chutzpah to take a stand.
My blood may boil when I read about all the bullshit legislation the GOP is ushering through the halls of Congress, but it goes absolutely cold when someone (proudly, even) claims to “not care.” While I hate legislation that aims to take away civil rights and funding for social programs, I truly despise apathy.
You see apathy requires a special kind of ignorance—the willful kind. It’s actually relatively difficult to avoid all current events. At some point, over the course of the day, most people are confronted with one political issue or another on which they could (ahem… should) take a stand. Instead, the 40% or so of the electorate that can be relied upon to stay home the first Tuesday in November turn to topics that are much easier to discuss—say, the newest Josh Groban song or the score of Sunday’s football game. This is not to say that I hate celebrity news (sadly, I find it enthralling), but rather to compare the relative gravity of the two topics. The next vote in the House of Representatives may directly impact your future. Even if you plan to play this Groban hit at your wedding, it would behoove you to check out the goings on of DC—and to give them some thought.
Those who claim to find politics unworthy of their attention regularly lambast the world of politics as immoral/useless/corrupt. I have always found this argument to be self-defeating. Isn’t that more of a reason to care? If you believe your representative is corrupt, if you think that the government is wasting time and money, perhaps you can invest some of the energy spurned from this disapproval into creating change.
Not only am I obsessed with politics; I can admire the genius behind any kind of political ingenuity. While I may not agree with the ends—the means are often brilliant. Politics may be a dirty business, but what business doesn’t have a few skeletons in its closet? Like it or not, this dirty business is crucial—and we all have the right and responsibility to participate. You hate the government? Fine. As a citizen, it is your right to fix it. It is, after all, by the people and for the people. That hasn’t changed.
What has changed is the composition of our bodies of elected officials. Once seemingly representative—a farmer here, a doctor there—politics has become a money game. The people who represent you are often members of the wealthiest 2% of the American money pie. While this doesn’t necessarily mean they are evil (or particularly interested in keeping that money), it certainly means they need to hear from you—the other 98% of America, the 98% that is most affected by the legislation that is sometimes little more than political gesturing. Because while you ignore them, they are writing bills that will increase your tax burden while lowering that of the corporation you work for.
So… you can sit back in your cubicle, cruise Perez Hilton (hahahaha, not trying to make a joke, but awesome anyway) and sip your $4 latte from Starbucks. I will be ignoring my schoolwork while hunched over my macbook, poring over NPR and NYT articles and sipping my $4 latte. But it will probably be a skinny latte. You know, gotta watch the calories.