A lack of political fever when it’s needed most

Garrison Ebie

It occurred to me recently that political apathy is worse than I thought.

Last November you might have guessed that Americans were on their way to a revolution. One where we all take back the power that’s been invested to big-business fat cats and finally give the working man a reason to believe America has a place for him, too. It was election season. People were emotional and radiant in talking about issues they cared about.

After the election results came through the wire, people were actually celebrating. Despite whom each person voted for, there was a sense of unity in this country I’ve never felt before. I mean, how often can you go to the bar for a drink and hear everyone cheering about what’s on CNN? I figured there must be something special going on.

And now it’s April. I know not enough time has really passed for the new administration to be strictly judged on its accomplishments, but all that huss and fuss is definitely lacking a little more each week. It seems like people got what they wanted, then they shut up. I’m not feeling this sense of unity anymore.

In fact, I’m feeling isolated. I feel isolated in a country where every day the gap in socioeconomic status widens, where people paying a Medicare tax probably won’t even get to reap its benefits, where banks own more houses than people do. And not enough of us really seem to care.

I know American politics can sometimes be a real drag. It’s a bunch of old guys in suits who hang out in these big white buildings, right? The history behind it just involves another bunch of old dead guys, right? And on top of that, it’s all based off a bunch of boring words that take too long to read and are too hard to understand.

Regardless, it’s important stuff. According to every political science class I’ve taken at Kent State, the definition of politics is “who gets what, when and where.” The political process affects everyone’s livelihood. Even an anti-social hermit living in a log cabin in the middle of the forest, cut off from fresh water and electricity, still may see their forest cut down one day, resulting only from a simple stroke of a pen thousands of miles away.

Consider government as a giant flesh-eating monster inside a cage that won’t sleep until it breaks through the bars and finds its way out. Facing this sort of a dilemma, you might want to ensure that the monster does not escape. Consider what travesties have taken place in history when the masses choose to ignore their government.

A thousand years passed where almost every peasant in western Europe was completely manipulated by the state and church. You saw a gap between rich and poor so wide that they didn’t even eat the same food. Life was miserable. All of this came about simply because of illiteracy, ignorance and a general lack of accountability.

What happened in America in the 20th century has been an exponential growth in the amount we trust our government. Human immigration into large metropolitan areas in the last 100 years brought more crime and poverty, which ultimately makes people more submissive to methods of ensuring social harmony and therefore, more control of their daily lives.

Expansion of state control has brought us to today’s authorization of billions of dollars being given to corporations with hardly any standard procedure of how to spend it.

It’s embarrassing that people we elected to run this country throw money – our money – at every problem without a clear course of action. People are not nearly as outraged at this as they should be.

A universal role of government is to protect property, and yet it’s being taken away every day. Given the political fever in America last year, I know everyone has it in them to give a crap, but when details get complicated, too many just fall off the bandwagon.

There’s a quote by Henry David Thoreau that goes, “That government is best which governs not at all; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”

I don’t think an absent form of government will ever exist, simply due to human nature being as violent and cruel as it is every day. Complete freedom from the state only exists within an individual’s mind. All we can, and should do, is hold our government accountable. Keep up to date on what they’re doing, and call them out on it when they’re wrong. This is why the First Amendment exists.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].