At long last, we have reached the day for primary elections in the state of Alabama. Finally, we can put an end to the relentless bombardment of creepily deceptive and/or creepily vainglorious campaign commercials that made me long for more wholesome, straightforward TV ads from ambulance-chasing lawyers and herbal Viagra knock-offs. At least until the general election commercials start up next week.
What result would I like to see? Sadly, no one election can make me happy, because I don’t want anything that a politician is capable of giving me. What I want to see is a change in our attitude about politics. As I’ve said before, I am profoundly pro-apathy, with a caveat:
Yes, it would be better if all Americans understood everything about their government and the consequences of government actions. But it is good that Americans have lives that are full enough that they don’t have time to worry about crap like that.
I am a vociferous proponent of political apathy. Somebody has to be, because the apathetic certainly aren’t going to do it. If you’re not interested in learning all about the minutiae of Washington politics, I say good for you. Do your thing, take care of your family, and spare yourself the grief.
The only problem with political apathy is that it takes two to play at that game, and the government is not apathetic about you at all. It is, in fact, very interested in you, like a bad ex-girlfriend with infinite resources who doesn’t have anything better to do. No matter how little you care, the government is so big that it — along with all of its stupid ideas — is going to land on you in some way.
In my mind, the best cure for political ignorance is to have a government that is small enough so that ignorance about it doesn’t matter. It is a pipe dream to ever hope for all Americans to suddenly devote a significant chunk of their spare time to studies of tax law and Supreme Court precedent. But reduce the reach and power of government, and you reduce the need to know about any of that stuff.
Unfortunately, the people who do care enough to know that stuff don’t want less government; they want more of it, so that their otherwise esoteric knowledge will matter more. So, to ever have smaller government, Americans will have to rise up and fight for their right to be apathetic.
The more civic-minded among us scold all the rest of us whenever there’s low turnout for an election. But when, say, 17% of registered voters show up, I say, “Good. That’s means 83% of the people had something better to do than screw around with stupid politics.”
However, if you’re so inclined to turn out, I encourage you, too, to strike a blow for apathy. Either vote for politicians who don’t want to further expand the size and scope of government, or — for more fun — vote for politicians who are too incompetent to actually do it. One election cycle won’t change government enough to allow us all to be truly apathetic about it, but we can take a step in that direction. Then we can take an early lunch and knock off for the rest of the day. Apathy! Or whatever!