I have always been politically apathetic. This may be because I’ve lived in countries that are by-and-large democratic but are geographically and population-wise so large that the desire to enact any change is counteracted by static inertia. It didn’t help that I went to Rice, where most everyone is generally apathetic about, well, everything.
Growing up in India, “politics” was used as a verb that basically was the equivalent of “abusing power”. Sample:
“They were going to fix those roads but then the minister just did some politics and suspended the project.”
Politics and politicians have a very negative connotation in India. At least, this was the feeling I got, growing up. I remember hearing stories about voters being bullied or attacked at poll-booths to make sure they voted for a specific party. Or the countless articles about political parties dividing voters on the basis of religion. Or social class. I’m sure this stuff happens everywhere, but it felt more magnified in India because there are about a billion people living there and fragmenting the voting pool that much is going to result in hung elections all the time. I’m actually still not aware of the details of how the Indian democracy works. I should probably put that down on my TODO list.
It didn’t help the image of politicians that most of them appeared to be wrinkly, old men with little to no educational background. I remember reading a joke somewhere, recently, about the way India functioned. The best and brightest of our country’s population is striving for the jobs in engineering, medicine, management, etc. This is mainly due to the way our society has developed wherein these areas of study are supposed to be better and other areas (essentially liberal arts) are thought to be inferior, for some reason. That’s the topic for another discussion, though. Anyhow, the joke basically goes like this.
The (theoretically) smartest Indian kids go into fields that have historically helped a country in industrialization and general maturation. The others end up going to the management positions or the government and (mis-)managing those who are (theoretically) intellectually superior to them. I emphasize the word ‘theoretically’ because I don’t want to present that as my opinion. However, I do feel like the general perception in India is that the politicians are stupider than the general public.
Anyhow, enough about my paltry childhood from a political perspective. As I said in the first sentence of this post, I have always been politically apathetic, as a result of the dire situation in India. When I came to the US as a wide-eyed college student, the last thing on my mind was the political situation here because, frankly, I had better things to spend my brainjuice on, and I wasn’t allowed to vote so it wasn’t like I had any ability to create change, anyway.
I was a junior/senior in college at Rice when Obama’s campaign in 2008 rolled around and while I didn’t pay too much attention to his political viewpoints or ideologies, it was interesting to see young people interested in politics. Now, I don’t know if that was just because that’s how things were in the U.S. or if it just happened to coincide with my friend circles or if Barack Obama just happened to inspire hope and change, but it was refreshing nonetheless. When I was in college, generally Obama was considered to be a good thing. I didn’t bother to collect my own data but instead went with the flow. I didn’t campaign for Obama or against McCain, but Palin appeared to be a Bad Thing so I was generally happy when Mr. Obama took office.
Over the last four years I have graduated from college and am now fending for myself independently. While nothing Obama has done or hasn’t done has affected me personally, I feel like the situation for a lot of people has changed dramatically. Of course, Obama’s rivals have taken advantage of this to engage in some good ol’ propaganda-disbursement. And we have the GOP candidates lining up to earn their party’s bid for the 2012 election. And, of course, the candidates come with their own baggage, whether it is a slew of sexual harassment accusations or the inability to speak in public and sound intelligent (also known as the GWB-syndrome).
So, I have finally decided to do my own research. Since I am not affiliated with either party and I have a generally dislike for politicians (see: rest of article) I feel like I am at a good stage to decide for myself what I think about each politician and their viewpoints. Since it’s the Republicans that are occupying the news waves (Occupy movement-related pun intended), I will be starting out by looking at those guys and their thoughts and agendas. I’m hoping to be able to supplement my thoughts with media, as well.
I’m not going to make any commitments about what kind of content I intend to put up here. This may be the first and last post I have about this subject (mostly due to laziness). However, I do think I have finally reached a stage in my life where it is important for me to figure out what all the issues are, decide where I stand based on my viewpoint of the world, and figure out how that meshes with what our “leaders of tomorrow” have in mind.
I welcome you to post comments, thoughts, retorts throughout this process to encourage discussion as that will only increase the amount of information available. I would also like to apologize in advance if I ruffle anyone’s feathers.