Thursday, October 27, 2005

OT: Political Detox Program Needed

Is there a twelve-step program for politics junkies?

As you may guess from my choice of stuff to blog about, I'm not a particularly political person. I don't mean that as a veiled compliment to myself (as in "I'm above all that partisan bickering"); it's more of a sad admission: others are out there making a difference and fighting for what they believe in, and I've never been able to muster up enough political conviction to do that. Not good, but there we are.

In the last couple of years, though, and in the last few months especially, I've become addicted to U.S. political stuff, especially political blogs (I can't stomach television news). This wouldn't be a bad thing, except I hate this addiction. I hate it for several reasons:

1) I am not American. I am Canadian, I have lived in Canada all my life. Therefore I am addicted to news about a political process that is for the most part none of my damn business. If I were addicted to Canadian politics, I could get involved and work to make a difference. This is not, and should not be, an option with the politics of a foreign country. To some extent the U.S. foreign policy is my business; given that the Bush administration is basing its foreign policy on outdated pre-9/11 ideas and clinging to silly bromides about freedom and such (amazing what a bunch of touchy-feely hippies conservatives have become in the last ten years or so), I definitely feel that the world is becoming less safe for, well, everyone. But as to whether I as a foreigner should be able to influence U.S. foreign policy, the answer is obviously no. In theory, anyway.

2) I am afraid I'm one of those foreigners who is convinced that the U.S. federal government is profoundly screwed up, that the Bush administration is for various reasons much worse than any other in my lifetime, and that the political and social right is essentially horrible. I don't want to get into the whys and wherefores of why some of us "moderates" (and I considered myself, when I considered myself anything at all, a moderate) have decided on this. Short answer, the Iraq war -- when people start getting killed for stupid reasons, politicians stop being a punchline, and when pundits keep making up more stupid reasons, they cease being fun to read. (However, I thought the Iraq War was a terrible idea back in September 2001, when I first heard talk that Iraq might be "next"; yet apart from feeling very bad that this terrible and stupid idea was being put into practice, I didn't follow politics that closely until mid-2004 or so. Maybe it was the U.S. election or the rise of readable liberal blogs, or both, that created the real addiction.) But the thing is that following U.S. politics is not enjoyable or funny, it's ulcer-inducing and depressing. I used to be able to read many American conservative magazines and enjoy them to some extent (for one thing, a few years ago the liberal publications sucked; they've gotten better in opposition, and conservative publications have gotten very bad indeed); now that they generally exist to advocate killing a lot of Muslims for vaguely-defined reasons, I don't find it so enjoyable.

3. Given that I am not American and don't have any particular brief for the Democratic party (they're obviously less inclined to make up stupid reasons for killing a lot of people, but only slightly, and U.S. domestic issues are none of my business), I can't do the whole Daily Kos thing and cheer for the revival of the Democratic party, or the "Democrat party" as stupid people like to call them. Horseracing is not my thing. All I can do is watch and wait and feel my stomach turn inside out.

Sorry for what amounts to a rant, and I promise this will be a one-time-only thing; this is not a political blog. The fact that I don't want to write about politics, don't like writing about politics, is ironically what prompted me to write this post: I had to let it out because that's the first step on the road to trying to step away, realize that the U.S. is not my country and not mine to fix, and try to concentrate on works of art and popular culture that will outlast the current U.S. administration by quite some time.

Wish me luck in trying to recover, folks.

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