I have to say that I completely understand people who don’t become involved in political discussions, because it all seems so pointless and depressing. It’s kind of like housecleaning. As soon as you think you’re finished, you have to start all over again.
The majority of Americans, I would say, quietly listen and then go quietly vote. Ergo, despite the toxic rhetoric of the 2008 presidential campaign, a majority of Americans went and quietly voted Barack Obama into office.
Liberals, it seems to me, are particularly prone to becoming depressed and giving up. Conservatives know that, and just wait for the liberals to wear down. (See: Congress.)
I’m personally very prone to that wearing-down thing, but I’m also aware of it. I know it isn’t logical. So I just keep plodding, mostly in small ways. I’ve been involved in some political issues, most notably fighting Wal-Mart, and a little less high-profile issue involving a change to the animal control laws. I’ve been on TV. I’ve appeared at Commission meetings. In neither case did I get everything I wanted. But here is what I did get: it’s better than it might have been. If you define winning by getting everything you want, you will always lose. But if you don’t say anything, you will lose more.
And here is what keeps me going: you never know how what you say may impact someone. The cynics I know say that politics boils down to values, and that you can never change another person’s values. I don’t believe that. But I don’t really care about your values. I only care about how you act.
My perfect example is the Civil Rights Act. It did not change values, but it forced changes in behavior. Those changes in behavior eventually forced changes in values. Sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse.
So as I mentioned in my recent post Political Schizophrenia, I was asked by the Board of the business organization I belong to to explain my support for Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution. This was your ultimate exercise in futility, since the organization had already voted to oppose it. But how can I explain? I just felt a need to do it.
The two members of our seven-member Board who might even have felt some sympathy for me were absent. Three of the five members present really had no idea what it was about. That left me and the one other Board member who had any idea what it meant to duke it out, so to speak, since our opinions were diametrically opposed. He was condescending; I was biting my tongue. If it were a debate, I’d say he won.
But then…last week, our parent state organization asked for $10 more per member to contribute to an “industry defense fund”. Which they said they might need to fight Amendment 4. One Board member said…we already have a PAC we contribute $50 to per member. Why can’t the PAC suffice? And what exactly is a defense fund anyway?
I replied: In my experience, PAC’s lobby. A defense fund is separate, and is used to defend against lawsuits. Or possibly to sue. (Like there is anybody to sue if a constitutional amendment is passed by the voters. You can sue to keep it off the ballot, but after that it’s happy trails.) More likely, they’re worried about being sued if the amendment fails.
The end result was, our chapter voted No–we will not give $10 more per member to a defense fund. I think that had everything to do with them tying it to Amendment 4. I have no objection to any organization having a defense fund. But I think the quiet people in my tiny group listened. Go, Quiet People.