Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rob: I'm not a junkie

A friend of this blog Rob from A Million Monkeys has a column out today...
I am not a political junkie. Yes, I obsessively follow the ins and outs of every campaign in sight. I parse the meanings of every public opinion poll I can.

But junkie? I don't think that's the right word. I understand that it is meant to convey a certain, er, drivenness among followers of campaigns. I don't object to the implication that I am addicted to political news. I am!

But when a junkie gets his fix, he gets a chance to relax, if only for a few minutes. As a political obsessive, I wish I had that kind of down-time.

My condition begins with the premise that public policies impact people's lives. I know some people who don't believe this -- maybe they say that the major U.S. political parties share too many interests, or that the government or its elected representatives are too corrupt to make any difference to anyone.

I have some respect for that view, actually. There is no shortage of issues where arguably positive reforms are not even on the political radar. People who want to curb global warming might favor a big hike in the gas tax as a way of getting people to drive less. People who believe the war on drugs is failing favor a program of decriminalization or legalization. Well, good luck getting a mainstream politician to even say the words "gas tax" or "legalization," much less risk their political lives pushing the issues forward.

But as maddening as the democratic process can be -- bumper stickers, pandering, attack ads and all -- it is still the way U.S. policy is set, because it is the way politicians gain their office. The president sets our foreign policy; the Congress will determine the direction the country takes its immigration policy. Our state legislators affect the way health care is distributed in Wisconsin, not to mention when potholes on state roads get fixed. Local leaders influence the direction of growth the city will take.

Oh, and also, tax rates. Did I mention tax rates?

So you will have a hard time convincing me that the choices made by elected officials don't affect me directly.
Aside from his aforementioned blog you can read more of his musings over at his day job here.

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