an antidote for it
I never gave much thought to politics until late in life. I suppose I was too busy working, taking care of family affairs, and planning the future to think about anything else. As naive as it sounds today, I even recall a time when I thought political issues should be handled by professional politicians because they had all the best information to make the best decisions. I know how foolish that sounds today as we contemplate how people like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Maxine Waters, and the Squad get elected.
Then one day I heard Plato say [i]That was around 300 BC, so I was just a little kid at the time, “one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors”. Socrates of course had taken a very different view on that question, but I am going with Plato on this one.
By the 1970s I remember the feeling of frustration that I was not able to engage with my good friends John Ronald and Larry Stenger, as they debated the political questions of the day. Even so, it took another couple of decades for me to gain the confidence I needed to formulate opinions that I judged worthy of sharing. And yes, I am aware that not all spokespersons exercise that level of restraint – hence the title.
By the 1990s, not being a constitutional lawyer or even a student of political science, and not being smart enough to hold a lot of complicated information in my mind, I started collecting printed documents, like the U.S. Constitution, Federalist Papers , and other such things, which I kept above the visor in my truck – and I still do that as a backup. Later on, I collected the same documents and others, in pdf format – the beauty being that they can be quickly searched for keywords and phrases. The current list, which I keep on my phone (also on Google Drive but I like to have them handy) is extensive but this is a brief sample.
- U.S. Constitution
- All the Constitutional Amendments with tags to the Articles
- The Federalist Papers – also tagged as to the subject matter
- Speeches by Martin Luther King, Kennedy, Reagan, et al
- References to Marx, Montesquieu, and others
- Al Gore on “inventing” the Internet & Trump on Charlottesville
- Infamous untruths like Reagan eliminating mental hospitals in 1972[ii]He had vetoed the bill earlier but found himself in the impossible situation of a veto-proof Democrat Congress.
- Contemporary items like the most recent antics of “ The Squad “
Some references are a bit bulky, like the Mueller Report at 448 pages and 137 MB. [iii]Acrobat was able to compress it to 72 MB Whereas most are much smaller – the Constitution is 19 pages at 381 KB and the translation of the Magna Carta from the National Archives is only 6 pages and 47 KB.
I am the first to admit that my understanding of any given situation in the political arena is most often shallow at first. What I have learned is that the opposing view is usually even shallower. With my new system, a flick of a finger on my phone can address the question head-on, without letting my initially shallow opinion get in the way.
A friend [iv].. who shall remain unnamed for now recently began exhausting a lot of hot air about the recent Georgia voting law revision, an easy read at less than 100 pages, and widely alleged in the media to be “white supremacist” or worse. When I pulled out my Pixel 3XL and inquired of my friend, “which paragraph concerns you most”, the room fell suddenly and totally quiet. [v].. the antidote
Written: circa Spring 2020
Published: June 2021