Every day, news flows over the citizenry, over each and every one of us. When it flows over me it triggers a flood of thoughts about our politics, our economy, our people—about where we, as a country ,should be going.
Being a citizen is a pretty big thing. It’s frustrating, though, because the jobs of the citizen are pretty thankless; they’re pretty lowly. Depending on what kind of person you are, the kind of rote, unpromising gestures and duties that American citizens are assigned might not gratify certain aspects of your personality. Especially when being a citizen makes you feel taken for granted in some way. Often it seems our only job is to evaluate an endless stream of pronouncements, of political advertising, of reportage, of events that are being mediated and spun in myriad ways. Once every couple of years we are urged to get up out of our chairs to vote.
Yet being a citizen is a big deal: a nebulous but theoretically momentous responsibility. You have to know a lot to be a citizen of the US, a lot more than you used to; to be a good citizen, at least. In a difficult period, the role of citizens is not inconsequential, no matter how it seems.
The affairs of the US advance in a stumbling, benighted way that most of us, understandably, find troubling. The economy is stalled, and the machinations of our parties are difficult to relate to. Many political leaders are insincere or self-interested; it’s difficult to tolerate their bravado and posturing.
I’ve gotten tired of talking back to the radio and TV. Not even talking back, just thinking back: just forming my opinions in my head in a reactive fashion, then not doing anything with those thoughts, not doing anything with them at all. That’s been my M.O. for quite a long time, for many years, even. I need to give my husband a break, because, poor Bob, he’s the one who always ends up listening to me. He’s always there to hear my long disquisitions on what should be happening, on what we might all be doing differently. I’m naturally always working on that: on the alternatives to what is happening. Is it possible that, by flinging my ideas out on the internet, some of what I hope for might become a little more likely to occur? Discourse is the lifeblood of a republic like ours.
Susan – glad that I read “why” and learned of your background. I’m excited to have some new, thoughtful, thought-provoking political reading. Thank you for your blog!
Michele–I re-read this essay myself sometimes to remind myself why I’m blogging. I mean, why comment on politics when there are so many professionals out there doing it already? But I think this is the challenge for the lowly citizen: how to get involved in a system that is now so technologically mediated and much less embedded in true social relationships than it used to be. So here we are, blogging! Thanks so much for reading, and for writing something here in return. I liked your post on changing parties very much. Susan
This is vital – for one to chose and develop one’s own venue for expression. Please do not fool yourself into thinking that the opinion of “professionals” has any more finesse or grasp of the complexities for the subjects about which you write; they likely just have better network of contacts or a cousin or a lover or a college chum whose stepdad, mum, or uncle Charlie’s golf buddy has a great job at a network or newspaper.