The Crushing Weight of Leviathan, or How Barack Obama is hurting my marriage
My wife has hidden my posts on her Facebook feed.
My constant blogging, linking, and commenting on all things political has driven her to this. We’ve had several discussions recently about my “obsessive compulsion” with politics. She doesn’t think I am quite balanced in my life, and claims that others among our friends have also blocked me from their feed for similar reasons. I’ve also been asked, by her and others, if I am capable of conversing on any other topic. What I would call intensity and focus, even passion, is being interpreted by my wife and others as almost a derangement.
I don’t think I would be quite like this in normal times. My wife claims that it’s been ever since the razor-close election of 2000. I certainly was glued to the radio and the news during those eventful months, but I think I returned to normal after Bush was inaugurated. I suspect that my nature is such that I would follow politics and events closely in any time in which I lived, but I also think that if I was the age I am now in, say, the 1920s, it would be different. How so?
Consider this: Barack Obama was quoted as desiring to be a “transformative figure”, the way Ronald Reagan had been, and the way Bill Clinton had not. He is serious about his campaign slogan of “Change.” Many people scoff at the cries of “socialism!” that have been raised during the Tea Parties and on radio and Fox News. Perhaps Obama is not a socialist, per se, but he does seem intent on drastically expanding the size and role of government in the United States. Government is now more involved in everything from mortgage lending to student loans, from health insurance to the auto industry, from banking and finance to the very carbon dioxide we exhale. And the Democrats aren’t done yet. They still want to pass Cap and Trade legislation, that would extend government’s reach into all aspects of energy production and usage, and what part of our lives doesn’t somehow involve energy?
Taken as individual issues, perhaps one can dismiss alarmism. But consider the big picture. Every aspect of life is being increasingly touched by government. Therefore, everything has become political.
Many of my friends have expressed relief that the “healthcare debate is over.” What they don’t seem to understand is that once such a basic part of life as the health care a person gets enters the political realm, the debate is never over. There will be a never-ending battle in the public sphere over who is getting enough coverage, and who is not, and where more funding is needed. And then the debates over how to cut the inevitable costly spending, and what “unhealthy behaviors” (such as tanning) that we need to tax or regulate, etc. etc. ad infinitum.
This has never been true in our history. A person of my temperament in former times may have been energized at election time, or about war, slavery, Prohibition, labor law or the threat of communism, but never have there been so many issues, that could potentially touch a citizen so close to home, that were being debated and legislated on.
And the Internet plays some part in this. The political junkie of the past was limited to his newspaper, or the radio and TV more recently, and did not have the access to diverse and practically infinite sources of information. Trying to keep abreast of all the things that are happening is a huge challenge in itself, and it is no wonder that so many people get overwhelmed and simply check out.
In times like these, with so much at stake, a person of my inclination, who loves his country, and is politically aware, cannot help but be a little bit deranged. I’ve been close to despair at times, and considered checking out of the whole mess, but I couldn’t do that. This is who I am–a patriot and a public citizen, driven to be involved in whatever small way that I can. Block me from your feed, if you must, or call me a nutter, if that’s what you think. But if I seem like a madman running around, trying to put out brush fires, it is because the Democrats keep setting so many, and in such proximity to what matters to me.