Political Apathy is Awesome

IN OTHER NEWS TODAY, MITT ROMNEY VISITED A SCHOOLHOUSE AND LEADS THE SOUTH DAKOTA GOP PRIMARY BY 470 PERCENT OVER RICK SANTORUM, bolstering his legitimacy in the eyes of voters by calling Santorum a nancy-boy. Not to be outdone, Santorum talked about religion… and the economy, and some other stuff. And claimed it was Romney who is, in fact, the nancy-boy, and not he.

Or something like that.

Probably.

We don’t actually know, because we don’t really follow politics. We don’t, and we’re not apologizing for it, either. We cite the GOP primary, but it doesn’t matter if it’s Republican, or Democrat. Conservative, or liberal. Left wing, or right. White trash redneck, or aging hippie douche. We’d honest-to-god rather see how many pool balls we can shove in our mouths than watch the State of the Union address.

If you feel like we do (and according to the Census Bureau voting statistics, there’s a good chance you do), then join the club. Join the ‘I’m-not-exactly-proud-of-it-but-fuck-you-for-trying-to-make-me-feel-bad-about-not-signing-your-stupid-petition-the-rainforest-can-eat-a-dick’ club. It’s not like we don’t have our reasons for not caring. We do, and we’ll explain. First of all…

1. Our politics are mostly boring

Plain and simple. Show me a person who can get enthralled by watching a day of uninterrupted C-SPAN, and I’ll show you a person who’s never heard of the Internet, or sports, or sex, or the sun rising. Watching paint dry is not an apt enough metaphor, because at least new paint is shiny and stuff, and the smell gets you high, and that’s underrated entertainment unto itself. Drying paint gets a bad rap, when you think about it.

Anyways, our political machinations are mostly confined to banal procedures like senate hearings, and there’s nothing wrong with not being able to get your rocks off by watching a bunch of old guys in suits politely but sternly talk over each other about federal deficit. We say ‘mostly confined’ because once in a while the Gods will throw us a bone and allow us a juicier resolution, like whether to invade a country or not. But these days even Iraq and Afghanistan are back-page news. Or at least they will be until the coming months when we’ll start to see Madonna and George Clooney talk about them, which will suck because…

2. Initiatives to get people politically involved are often celebrity-based, and therefore full of shit

We’re drawn to celebrities because, aesthetically, they tend to be prettier than everyone else. This also means that, unfortunately, we have to tolerate them when they feel like being born with a pretty face enables them to make people’s decisions for them…usually around presidential election time. They start to get political, and become the most visible constituents of whoever is running.

This means that they’re the ones who spearhead the most visible national campaigns to encourage people to vote.  This is where it gets ridiculous, because…

What they say: It’s important to get out there and vote! Make your voice be heard! We are the world! Vote or die, motherfucker!

What they really mean: It’s important that you get out there and vote exactly the way I do. Why else would I even be doing this?

It’s like that episode of South Park where they have to vote between a giant douche and a turd sandwich for the new school mascot, and Kyle keeps trying to convince Stan (who doesn’t want to participate) to vote using the same vague “it’s your moral imperative and civic duty” psychobabble on him. And when he finally does vote, Kyle flips his shit because Stan votes for the turd sandwich instead of Kyle’s candidate, the giant douche. We can’t recommend viewing this episode enough.

3. Political apathy is nothing new

It’s a common complaint you might hear uttered about yourself if you’re under the age of 30, something like ‘Young people got no respect!’, or ‘Kids these days don’t care about our country!’, or ‘We didn’t have this kind of laziness back in nineteen dickety five!’ People wane poetic about political indifference in society today like it’s a new scourge of the Earth—some virus heretofore unseen by man.

Know what the biggest statistical indicator of a person’s voting tendencies is? According to actual research, it’s physical mobility, or ‘the electoral procedures that tie registration to residential location’. Every time you move to a different address, you have to re-register. And anybody that’s ever moved from one residence to another can agree that re-registering to vote is very close to if not the last thing on your mind when you move. And, as we know, you can’t vote if you’re not registered. Old people vote in greater numbers because they don’t move around as much as everybody else, so they don’t have to worry about re-registering. It’s seriously as simple as that.

This means that the whole assumption that older generations vote more often because they were better instilled with proper values like patriotism, and civic duty, and flag loving is, frankly, total bullshit. It’s a variation of the ‘good old days’ myth that passing generations always like to cling to. When, exactly, these good old days were happening is never really made clear by those who like to talk about them, but you can be sure they involved no crime, no drugs, no war, no poverty, no unjust persecution, no hurt feelings, no vice of any kind, and damn sure no political indifference.

Oh, and speaking of, here’s a scholarly article written by a sociology professor at Cornell talking about how pervasive political indifference is in society. You might notice that that article was written in 1954—prime good old days territory. Or if you want to go earlier, here’s one from 1931 talking about the same thing. People were apolitical in the past, too, and the world didn’t come to an end.

4. Political indifference is a blessing in disguise

Politics need to extend into some kind of internecine violence before a lot of people can get really passionate about it. That’s the only time it gets exciting. There has to be lives at stake. Or some kind of fundamental change must hang in the balance. Or mass protests must transpire. Or blood must be spilt. Y’know, the kind of stuff you see in Haiti, or Egypt, or Syria, or any third world country you wouldn’t live in for a year if somebody paid you to.

Haitians are more passionate about their country’s politics because half of them live in refrigerator boxes, and they think that sucks. Iranians are more attentive to their governmental happenings because they can get arrested and detained for holding hands in public, and that inspires them to be angry and act out. Cameroonians participate more in their politics because they have nothing to eat, and this is as good a reason as any to make their voices be heard… by rioting.

Political indifference, if anything, is a sign of cultural health. We’re indifferent because we can be. We’re indifferent because the system works. That’s never a popular sentiment to have if you want to sit at the cools kid’s table, but we’re like… one of three countries in the entire world where people don’t leave to find a better life.

 

Related on The Smoking Jacket:
Hippycrites: Faking Green 
5 Reasons to Support Newt Gingrich (… Not) 

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