Outmaneuvering Presidents and Politics

WHAT’S PLAYING:  Natasha Bedingfield “Single”

Today is President’s Day, usually one of my favorite days. It’s a paid holiday from work. And I don’t have to buy any gifts. Win-win.

Except during election year when the political panderers come out to play. (Yes, I know that’s a horrible alliteration. What can I say? I’m feeling alliterative.)

Surveys from Washington, polling calls, and worst of all, those friggin’ robo calls. You know the ones, those pre-recorded “personal messages” from various candidates? Makes my blood boil.

The worst part is that once we’re out of the primaries and into the real election, it’s going to start all over again.

This year, I’m making a list of every political call I get. Once Election Day rolls around, I’m going to sit down and total the number of calls, and then vote for the candidate who bothered me the least. (I even changed my outgoing voice mail message to say so.)

I am not a political animal. I don’t care about platforms or promises, and I believe that most politicians are sociopaths and con artists.

(I’m also feeling bitter.)

I work hard. When I get home, I want to write, read, or veg out in front of the TV. What I don’t want to do is field half a dozen calls a night for causes I don’t care about from people I don’t know.

So, if you’re sick of hounding political phone calls, join my movement to end them. We’ll be ready for our first recruits soon.

Just as soon I as figure out how this damned robo call software works.

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How I Deal With Politics…In Writing and in Life

WHAT’S PLAYING: Flight of the Conchords “Robots”

My family likes to argue about everything – politics, religion, abortion, gay marriage, Occupy Wall Street– you name it, it’s up for debate.

This makes holidays especially stressful as dinner conversations usually end like this:

 

Not pretty.

Inevitably, someone will turn to me and ask, “What do you think?”

Me: “Um…please pass the cornbread.”

When it comes to politics and religion, I subscribe to the “ignorance is bliss” philosophy. Mostly because I have enough to worry about without getting entangled in useless arguments. That’s not to say that I don’t care about crucial issues like healthcare and unemployment, I just don’t see the point in debating them over the dining room table. I may be wrong, but I don’t think that yelling at each other is going to put this country to rights. The way I see it, if someone is truly unhappy with the way things are, then they should do something about it. Get involved, write your Congressman, or better yet, run for office. Don’t just sit there and whine.

As you can imagine, this point of view makes me less than popular among my relatives.

 

Still, in the interests of full disclosure, here’s a short list of where I stand on today’s hot-button issues.

Gay marriage: For. Simply because it’s nobody’s business. As far as I’m concerned, it’s no different from marriage between heterosexual couples. 

Abortion: For. Again, none of my business.

Occupy Wall Street: Mixed. While I agree with their sentiment, the lack of personal responsibility irks me. Here’s a link to an article that perfectly sums up my views on the subject:  http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/1031/Occupy-this-One-of-my-friends-works-on-Wall-Street.-One-camps-in-Zucotti-Park

Politics in general: meh.

Religion: not going there.

For some reason, the above topics tend to turn perfectly normal, well-educated adults into a pack of screaming morons willing to resort to blows in order to get their point across. I have a hard enough time maintaining a façade of maturity. Why jeopardize it for something so pointless?

 

I adopt the same attitude when it comes to writing. I’m not trying to change people’s minds or get them to support a cause. All I want to do is tell a story. That’s it. Period.

I’ve written plenty of stories that feature protagonists with whom I have nothing in common, politically or otherwise: thieves, murderers, bigots, and religious fanatics. I’ve written about heroes, villains, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, victims, predators, rapists, saints and sinners. When it comes to writing, they’re all the same to me. Characters created and shaped in service to the story. Nothing more.

What about you? Do you think writers have a duty to help people become more aware? Or should they limit themselves to entertaining? (I’ve read plenty of stories that do both.) Do you think things like politics and religion should shape literature? Or should they be left out so that the story can do what it does best?

Personally, I think I’ll continue to embrace apathy.  

If only to get through family dinners.