Saturday, November 21, 2015

My least favorite topic in the world: Politics

4 years ago

I cringe every time I sit down with one of my Italian friend because lately the one question they always ask me is what I think about the political situation in the US. Then they go on to cite a European newspaper or news program that has reported on some aspect of the election or the latest stupidity to come out of someone's mouth.

They want to know what I think. They believe so easily what they hear from what they view as reputable sources and want to use me as a kind of fact checking resource for their next conversation with their friends. They know what politics is here in Italy. They want to hear that it's different in the US. That our choices are broader and less mired in back-room negotiations. They don't want to believe most of what they are hearing about the presidential candidates. I don't want to believe that they say and do the things they say and do. Most days to me the political news sounds like a poorly written soap opera, and badly acted as well.

I don't have the words in Italian, I practically don't have them in English, to explain how to view the political landscape in the United States. Because as much as we'd like to believe that we are different, that our struggles for democracy have somehow made us immune to the problems that other countries experience, the truth is that we aren't.

We throw democracy around us like a magic cloak and pretend that the things that are happening can't be seen and certainly can't be felt because they are part of the democratic process. During an election year we say and do things that we would consider the height of poor taste and crude behavior in any other year and chalk it up to political fervor as if that should excuse everything and anything.

The truth is, there is no truth in politics. Every word that we hear and read, every word that we speak ourselves is delivered with a political, commercial, corporate or personal agenda. The truth is there is no one neutral enough to deliver a fair estimation of the candidates in this election.

Today, 4 years later. Nothing has changed, except that the players are even more outrageous, the non-partisan reporting even more partisan, and the public even more confused than in the previous election. World events have muddied the political waters even more by throwing fear into the equation. My heart aches for everyone.