It looks like I basically put into words, what a lot of you were thinking (at least those of you that wrote to me!) Times certainly have changed and it seems like many of you have noticed the same thing. And thanks to one dear reader we can now discuss why politics is (not are) so lame.
Maybe it's my unfamiliarity with the expression, but something about this title rings off-key so I looked it up, since I am often the "dumbest guy in the room" as well. According to the American Heritage Dictionary of English Usage, "politics" when used to convey political activity in general is usually considered singular, and when used to convey political views, methods, tools, etc. is plural. Such as, "My politics are more liberal than yours." Or, "Politics is the art of kissing ass without bending over." (My quotes).
As to the apparent political malaise at Stanford, where I am guessing that many students are on a full scholarship or their tuition is paid by wealthy families, I wonder how those political attitudes compare to say some single mother down at the local community college who is working two or three part-time minimum wage jobs because Bush's budget just cut student loans again? I am also curious when a prestigious university like Stanford became simply a "key" on one's "career path" as opposed to an institution dedicated to the intellectual development of the whole person?
I must be getting "old." For a progressive Democrat, I am often disgustingly a stick-in-the-mud conservative because I still live within 10 miles of where I grew up, knew all of my friends grandparents (and their politics!) and spend and invest my "social capital" down at the local pub.
Hic est felicitas, (Latin for, "drink up, Shriner!")
I was so thoroughly impressed with your article. It really captured every sentiment that I feel as a Stanford student. Mainly, I feel isolated in a lot of ways for being someone who believes in the benefit of politics and the governmental process. Any time I share my passion with others, I face looks of skepticism and even disdain. I am a Russian immigrant and I live 10 miles from my grandparents and a few hours from all my relatives. I really feel like you captured a lot of my exact sentiments about Stanford and life in general. Thank you so much.
Much appreciation for your brilliant article,
Obtained your article from the RCP site. I've enjoyed your previous columns for their insight and desire to "think" past the obvious. You don't rant and this is appreciated.
I'm writing, though, to share with you my similar concerns regarding the societal change. I am keenly aware of the disjointedness that you wrote of. I, for instance, grew up one block from my grandparents and time spent with cousins was not unusual and always great. I'm now 46 and purchased my family home in 1986 when my parents retired and moved to the north woods of Wisconsin (fortunately for me – the house has appreciated by a factor of almost 10!?!). My kids were born at the same hospital as I was and they were brought home to the same house that I was brought home to – and they love it!
But they love it because the situation is so unique and they know it. This is the new reality and, like yourself, I don't know what it means. I know that it is not a good thing, but, somehow, I know that we'll (society) muddle through it all. Right?
Lastly, what has me worried today is that my wife and I (she's from Minnesota and we live in Oak Park, IL) will find it difficult to continue living here after the kids go away to school (they're now 12 and 15). Why? We'll be able to retire early (not due to public pensions, but through frugality AND the good fortune of buying this house before the boom), but the cost of living in the Chicagoland area, especially property taxes, are so high that, combined with the high value of our house and the opportunity to purchase for much less in most of the rest of the country, we're sort of forced to consider living elsewhere – for affordability/quality of life reasons. But if we do this than we potentially sever our links with our children and guess where that leaves all of us? This is our dilemma. I should add that I'm the stay-at-home parent and we happily give up material items for this "luxury." What do we (and society) do?
Otherwise, life is wonderful!
Nothing has changed except the lack of a draft!
A military draft, this time for both men and woman, I assure you would adjust their "lame" attitude overnight. There is no war as long as there are no sacrifices on the part of the citizenry at large.
Re: Politics are so lame
"Not many students have real role models for political engagement. Mostly it is an activity that happens on TV, often performed by buffoons."
Modern politics have become a show, a three ring circus. We have the elephants, donkeys and clowns clamoring for our attention. It's become over the top nonsense now. I for one have had my fill. When the show ends, you just feel tired and want to get back to reality.
But like PT Barnum allegedly said, "There's a sucker born every minute."
I enjoyed your opinion piece.
If you still want to send in an e-mail, you'll have to read a real column to find the address.