When I was a kid, I was a bit out of the ordinary. I really enjoyed politics and political discussions. And I loved political arguments.
When I was younger, such arguments seemed to be about the merits of a position and the reasons for that position. This new century, coming as it does in the midst of this so-called Information Age, has seen a change in such arguments and not for the better.
The Information Age, bringing with it almost instantaneous access to any kind of information and the 24-hour news cycle has all but killed true political debate and with it thoughtful reflection. Instead, reactions are nearly as instant as the stories they respond to.
We have become a knee-jerk nation. Instead of truly considering and debating positions, our political leaders and their followers call each other liars, morons, and sometimes worse. I'm not surprised that nothing gets done on what many see as the major issues of our day: health care, immigration, the economy.
There seem to be fewer and fewer reasoned voices on either the left or the right. Because of that, the party in power is doomed to failure from the moment they take power. Every two or four years, I think the pendulum will swing back in the opposite direction, and both major parties will be so dizzy from the constant shifting, they won't be able to clear their heads long enough to get anything done, at least nothing worthwhile.
When I was in my 20s, I had a friend call me a radical and say that I would get more conservative once I got older. I don't think I have except when it comes to my view of the prospects of government accomplishing anything.
I have become very disillusioned about our government, primarily because they always seem to talk about doing something and then fail to follow through and actually do it.
Sadly, I don't think either major party has a recipe for success. Government for government's sake (what those on the right might argue the Democrats are all about) is not the answer. However, the less is more, hands-off and abdicate all responsibility approach of Republicans and Libertarians is no answer, either.
I have lived long enough not to trust the private sector to police itself or do anything to benefit the greater good. (Anyone remember Enron, Three Mile Island, the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez crash?) However, I have no confidence in government to act to rein in the excesses of private enterprise.
And so, in the midst of my middle age, I have lost interest in politics and political debate. The political era I reveled in during my youth is gone. Maybe it never really existed. Part of me wonders if perhaps it is finally time for us to admit that this Grand Experiment, as Alexis de Tocqueville called it in Democracy in America, has failed. Money talks, and the rest of us are silenced.