Monday, May 08, 2006

Approval at an All-Time Low – Thinking for oneself at an All Time High

A lot of people hate George W. Bush. Hell, most days I hate him too.

I’m a liberal American. Over the past 5.5 years I’ve gone from scared to terrified as I’ve watched my country deteriorate. I’ve watched human rights being violated. I’ve watched as basic freedoms are stolen. I’ve watched as religion has taken on a role in government that it has no right to play. I’ve watched our system as it is restructured to motivate people through fear (and other basic emotions) rather than logic and integrity.

This is a tragedy on the grandest scale, yet I cannot help but see the glimmer of a silver lining. The growing majority of Americans no longer see the government as some far off intangible that has no real bearing on their daily lives. The government now is perceived as a very real and very powerful force. This increased level of awareness has caused many Americans to step back and take another look at what were formerly their blissfully ignorant views.

This might be a bit of a stretch, but maybe George W was planted by the democrats (or any group seeking to shake our current system for that matter). Does this sound ridiculous? Hear me out: We were collectively voting on party lines and allowing those in power to do the thinking for us. I can fault no one for this and I am certainly guilty myself. I am pleased to observe though that Americans seem to be questioning and reevaluating their current government.

The bottom line is that although in my ideal world everyone will share my convictions; my true hope is that people will think for themselves, regardless of whether or not we agree. I want people to step back from whatever heuristics have helped them to comprehend their environments and start to process information more carefully when making important decisions. We certainly don’t need to pull out the statistical tools when deciding which t-shirt to throw on in the morning. However, as the long term impacts of our decisions increase in ramifications, our thought process should be based less on our whims and much more on said impact.

Of course, it is up to the individual to decide which aspect of long term impact is most important. If a person truly values money over all other things, then let him cast his vote in such a way that he believes he will maximize his monetary wealth. So long the system of incentives encourages full disclosure of pertinent information, voters can make informed decisions. Voters should be encouraged to know what issues matter for them and then be given the tools to vote accordingly.

Normally, the political system of the United States (and its figureheads) seems focused much more heavily on staying in power than on truth or accountability, but George W has pushed us back into the right direction. I can’t theorize as to whether or not this was his goal (or the goal of some secret mastermind), but I suppose his ill begotten intentions have put him onto the path to his own personal hell which will fortunately correlate with the United States’ redemption (metaphorically speaking, of course).

People are thinking. People have seen what voting purely on party lines has done to our country. Some people are starting to see that a vote, cast without thought, can lead to disaster; the impact of this carelessness will be felt immediately, but its effects will last for years. People are vowing that they will not let this happen again.

I have personally witnessed several historically conservative voters, of all ages, voicing their displeasure with George W. He has hurt the United States, badly and on many levels. Blind support of this particular leader is losing popularity. This is no longer the patriotic mindset. Blind faith in the president is not a good thing anymore. This is progress.

On many days I hate George W Bush. Today, I sort of want to give him a hug.