My sanest friends are usually those who spend their time far away from the world of politics. Their main concerns are their wives or husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends, kids, family, and everything but the ongoing mischief in Washington. I think this is quite normal. Some talk radio hosts and conservative pundits constantly criticize Americans who aren't politically engaged. Not me. In fact, I often feel like joining them.
Some of these sane friends have asked me in the past, "Why are you so into politics, Jack? Nothing ever changes." They're certainly not wrong in their assessment. For all the debating and bickering that constitutes American political discourse, things stay the same far more than they change — except that the status quo always seems to get progressively worse. Whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge, the debt balloons, deficits grow, and everyone promises to do something about the whole mess. And no one ever does.
Yet, political ideals still exist. There exists a Left and Right, liberalism and conservatism, Democrats and Republicans. There are also libertarians, socialists, progressives, reactionaries, anarchists, minarchists (you can look all this up because it confuses me too), and all sorts of subsets of people who have their own vision of what constitutes a proper political order. These visions inspire people to push forward and fight. When things don't change, they continue to fight. For most of the politicos I know from across the political spectrum, this need to fight is so ingrained in their DNA that they'll continue to do it until their last breath, even if they never make any progress.
Sounds insane right? This depends on your perspective.
I like to compare politics to marriage. Everyone has his or her own idea of what a good marriage is. Yet few if any ever achieve a perfect marriage. Sometimes marriages fall apart, and sometimes they remain awful even as they hold together. Yet the ideal, the proper order of things, the way things are supposed to be — this inspires people to keep fighting for their particular idea of a good marriage. Thankfully, many are generally satisfied. Unfortunately, many are not. And it's safe to say that no one is ever completely satisfied.
Politics are similar. Everyone knows that things will never be perfect, but they still have their ideals. My own conservative politics are born of my idea of a good society — limited government, individual liberty, and constitutional fidelity. I am not alone in my vision and I belong to a larger movement of fellow conservatives, libertarians, and others on the Right who share it. I've even been lucky enough to work with some of the most important figures on the contemporary American Right who share these same goals.
So to the question: Why politics? Because there will always be those who make the rules versus the rest of us who have to follow them. My politically disconnected friends no doubt have a saner disposition than many of my crazy political friends. But they also pay for exorbitant entitlement systems, endure absurd tax codes, watch their money become devalued, obey stupid laws, follow outlandish regulations, watch their fellow Americans die in unnecessary wars, and watch the next generation get saddled with monstrous debt — all because of people who decided to become politically engaged. In the eternal battle between those who make the rules and those who have to follow them, I am interested first and foremost with not only changing bad rules but ultimately limiting the power of our rulers. Our Constitution was designed to do precisely this, and to the degree that it is restored, our federal government can be severely limited. I want government to leave my friends and family alone to the degree that politics does not affect them in the same manner that it does today. I'm inclined to think that even my non-political friends would appreciate this greatly.
Indeed, normal Americans' first concern should be their wives and husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, kids, and families — everything but politics. Average Americans have to worry about politics today because this government nonsense is foisted upon them in countless intrusive ways the Founders never intended.
Will my conservative efforts count? The odds are not good. But they are exciting, the goals are worthy, and the fight is worth it.
So why politics? Simple: I'm married to it.
Jack Hunter assisted Sen. Jim DeMint with his latest book, Now or Never: Saving America From Economic Collapse. He is also the official campaign blogger for GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul, and he co-wrote Rand Paul's The Tea Party Goes to Washington. You can hear Southern Avenger commentaries on The Morning Buzz with Richard Todd on 1250 WTMA.