Right about now I imagine many of you are having dinner table/barside/water-cooler conversations about politics (well, that and the upcoming season of “24”) . I also imagine you may be completing an equation in your head that looks a little something like this:
Cynicism Toward Candidate “X” + Cynicism Toward America’s Political Atmosphere – The Greater Evils of Candidate “Y” x The Greater Good Of America’s Political Atmosphere = Degree of Self Empowerment
Anyone with even a modicum of semi-political consciousness is most likely weighing this matter in the three clusterf*#*@k weeks currently leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and because of this ponderation you may have even begun petitioning your friends and colleagues to “get involved.” To “make a difference.” To “rise up.” Phrases such as these were quite liberally thrown around during a recent Sunday afternoon conversation that occurred between my friend Matt, my father, my mother, and myself. In discussing the upcoming election and its consequences on America’s current financial woes, both my mom and Matt were extolling the (seemingly simple?) virtue of “everyday citizens” working their way into the system in order to begin cleaning it up. To begin washing away the corruption. To throw the crooked, pasty politicians out on the street with the rest of the garbage. Hell yeah!
But before I got all Travis Bickle about the matter, I recalled a recent piece I read in GQ magazine written by Philadelphia magazine editor-in-chief Larry Platt. It concerns his brief flirtation with running for Pennsylvania’s 6th congressional district and the maelstrom of compromise and triviality that descended upon him when he did; and I’ll tell you, it’s quite a tale. I’m still not sure if this piece has left me more or less cynical about the system—more or less empowered—but I’m curious about its affect on others. So check it out here and weigh in. It’s a really interesting, well-written story, so I would recommend it regardless of the current political atmosphere. But my question is this: Will it ever be possible for any of us “everyday citizens” to make a difference?