The study of politics is the study of power
between people or nations, it doesn’t need to be dour.
Yet when the topic is broached, over dinner or tea
most tend to desire, to let that topic be.
But as someone who loves it, there’s something I’d like to mention,
so please for a moment, could I have your attention?
As an American a recent episode comes to mind…
but really I’d say, such examples aren’t hard to find.
The one that stands out for me the most clearly
is a moment last month when a Rep. said so sincerely
that a woman who is raped in a “legitimate” way
has a mechanism in her body to keep pregnancy at bay.
From what he understood from a doctor (perhaps it was a clown?)
he claimed that it will find ways to “shut that whole thing down”.
I don’t want to debate over conception or abortion,
or even to comment on the fellow’s mental distortion.
The bigger issue at hand, that I see at least,
is that distrust of science has only increased.
It’s easier to see this at the level of one man,
but let’s take it a bit further, to a further view span…
When you think of a policy, whether by law or decree
we have an assumption, of a simple guarantee
that the rules in question is designed for a purpose
that the policies aren’t there, just to be worthless.
Beside all the rules that warrant thoughtful debate
there’s still so many more that we tend to tolerate.
They were put there for various nonsensical reasons,
or actions by leaders we’d all deem to be malfeasance.
So my underlying point, one I’ve been thinking through
is there’s an odd disconnection in the way that we view
the necessity for analyzing the legitimacy of facts,
between science and laws that a nation enacts.
It must surely be feasible to create a certain system,
that builds upon decades of all kinds of new wisdom
to analyze the impact of a policy in place
and determine if it’s a rule we should truly embrace.
Whether it’s laws governing our trade, traffic, or taxes,
the logic behind them shouldn’t be an abstraction.
Instead what we’re left with is the current arrangement,
that relies on a certain level of flawed disengagement
on the part of those persons who legislate our rules
(even if they are not otherwise a dolt or a fool).
Public officials, petitions, or (in the US) the judges
whole policies can be built on some personal grudges.
Since laws are now bought through payments and lobbies
isn’t it time we acknowledge and embody,
the values of science into the political edifice
their purpose and objective as the highest requisite?
I myself don’t have the answer as to how that would look
but I think the first step that must be undertook,
is to undo many people’s embellished attachment
to a system of government where corruption is rampant.
Based upon people’s disgusted reactions,
to Rep. Akin’s odd comments which gained such attraction,
it’s clear that many value the factual truth,
yet they may also find it purely uncouth
to question the foundation of our political structure
because challenging that would just make them shudder.
So we must become comfortable to be loud and outspoken
and say to our peers that “Yes, our democracy is broken.
It’s okay to question, criticize, and proffer
that it should be upgraded since the Founding Fathers
built it up as such, so many years ago.”
and make this idea grow more apropos.
Political discussion can be less about a candidate
or a new legislation, which only does aggravate.
It can be a creative endeavor, for us to imagine
new ways to design government in a functional fashion.
I stress it won’t be easy to find the solutions
to how we should fix our public institutions.
Just remember to discuss, challenge, and surmise
new doors will be opened, once we let ourselves hypothesize.
When I heard the news about his death last month, I finally got around to reading his work. David Rakoff was a regular contributor to This American Life, and when I first listened to one of his segments I, as many others, became an immediate fan.
He’s one of those writers that knew so well how to use language to dance with your emotions. His writing is intimate, lyrical, and always extremely clever. You can tell that he deeply respected composition and obsessed over his words.
I wrote this piece as a sort of homage to him. I think he single-handedly resuscitated couplet poetry from being a childish, dismissible writing form usually associated with Dr. Seuss, to an elegant, expressive one, capable of delivering complex feeling in a sweet melodic way.
This is the piece that I first heard from him: Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace by David Rakoff
Shortly before his death, he performed for the This American Life stage show this summer. It’s a beautiful, sad piece about living with cancer. It’s really worth watching until the end: “Stiff as a Board, Light as a Feather” by David Rakoff