I don’t remember exactly when I burned out on politics, but I know it was around 2003. I stopped caring.
I used to be, believe it or not, conservative. Sort of. I identified with the Republican party. Sort of. I described myself as fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. Whatever that means. The term South Park Republican came out around that time, and the Libertarians were just on the horizon for me personally.
My father is a Republican. I grew up listening to Rush Limbaugh in the car, and later Hannity and Glenn Beck. Any time we were in the car the local AM conservative talk station would be on. Thanks to my strange love for talk radio in general and the lack of good apolitical talk radio at any given time of day, those would end up playing in my own car when I came of age.
And then, of course, there is the internet. I used to be a forum warrior. I liked to argue. Not in a good way, however. Not for any good reason other than I liked to score points. I knew how to twist words, bend arguments, lead the discussion. Nobody’s mind was ever changed, of course. That’s not the point. The point was that I scored points, right?
Eventually I got burned out. I got tired of the conflict, the constant conflict on these stupid forums. Not that it was ever aggressive, I kept it polite. But it just got really old, really fast.
One of the reasons was that I started to realize that I didn’t even really believe some of these points i was arguing, and was still able to argue them convincingly. It felt false, and ignorant.
Another was that no one’s mind was ever changed. It just didn’t happen. No one had an open mind, except perhaps myself. I felt like I was playing a game of chess, and I just happened to pick white while my opponent chose to play black. Neither side really cared about the argument, we just wanted to win.
As a result, I started seeing American politics as a whole through that light. The Red Team and the Blue Team. Donkeys versus Elephants. Go team Go.
I lost touch with politics for a decade. I still read the news, but I interpreted it for myself, and never shared my opinions. Never wrote about it. Rarely talked about it. I don’t talk politics with someone unless I can agree with their points, because it’s been my experience that it only leads to conflict and dislike.
Over the course of this decade, it’s kind of funny how I’ve shifted in the political spectrum. I view myself now as left of center, and completely detached from any labels. I’m not a liberal, I’m not a conservative, I don’t belong to any party, I don’t pull for any candidate. I haven’t voted since 2004.
I took the Political Compass Test, something I took around the time I quit giving a shit. The results are almost exactly opposite from what I remember. I remember being just right of center, and a little bit below the Authoritarian/Libertarian line. Here’s the results of the test as I stand today:
I probably moved six spaces left and four down in a decade. Why the change?
I think it was the result of withdrawing entirely from the political media and political news. I didn’t even watch the Daily Show. I found any amount of political pandering to be unbearable. I began to practice a bit more critical thinking.
I don’t think that this political apathy is a good thing. If everyone were as apathetic as myself, then anyone with any agenda could pretty much take over.
I think apathy is spreading, particularly among my generation. The internet is a great tool for getting your message out, but it can also be overwhelming.
I’m going to try to address politics in some form on this site. I’m gonna get back into it. I think first I should lay a base, a way of thinking. Rules of conduct. I welcome discussion, always.
My dream in this vein is to create a forum where people can actually change their minds. Calm and logical debate on the most heated topics. I won’t do it, I don’t think it’s possible with the way we all were raised in the schools. Critical thinking and debate aren’t taught. We have to learn it for ourselves.
Schools don’t teach us how to think, they teach us what to think. There’s a big difference. I could rant on that for hours, but I won’t. This post is disjointed enough. Apologies if you actually read it.