(Clinton KY, February 19, 2014) - Recently, we’ve heard from educated Kentuckians that they don't know much about politics. Further, they don't care for it. It's so... messy.
Surprisingly, it appears to be a point of pride that not only does one not take an interest, but somehow, it's not quite the done thing.
Politicians in the view of our enlightened friends are:
(A. All crooked
(B. All stupid
(C. No one we know
(D. All of the above
While we agree that the above choices apply to some politicians. We also believe that those same answers can apply to a proportion of the general population. There are those in every walk of life - butcher, baker, candlestick maker, doctor, lawyer, clerk, banker - that leave me wanting to invoke a cloak of invisibility when I see them coming. Because standing for election calls for a certain amount of chutzpah, the profession of politician attracts a greater proportion of scofflaws.
We don't agree that all politicians are scoundrels. If we were to agree, then we would be guilty of putting scoundrels in power by the simple act of voting. Or in the case of half the voting population, not voting.
It seems inconceivable that people smart enough to follow the Cats' basketball season, memorize the stats of each player on the team and calculate the odds of getting through the algebraic equation of NCAA brackets cannot remember the name of their Kentucky House member.
Folks plan months in advance for a concert trip. Election Day sneaks up on them and they can't fit voting into their schedule.
There are those among us who master every app on their cell phone. But they cannot cannot parse out what a legislative proposal will do to their everyday life.
Discerning shoppers read labels assiduously and scoff at ridiculous claims on cereal boxes. When it comes to political advertising, words and pictures are either taken as gospel or summarily dismissed. There seems to be no middle ground.
It is here that we differentiate between two words that are used interchangeably.. We believe incorrectly. The words are “politics” and “issues.” Those of you who have been around this site for longer than five years may remember this Journal once had the lengthy name of Kentucky Journal of Politics & Issues. We shortened our name and expanded our offerings five years ago. We still write a about politics. We still deal with issues.
Politics is the people portion of the pair. Politics is elections. Politics is arm twisting and vote counting. Politics is horse trading.
Politics is about job applications. Simply put, those running for elected office are applying for jobs. We, the voters, are the employers. Take away the noise, the mudslinging, the emotional appeal. They want a job. We can give it to them. Or not.
For a review of how a master politician works, watch the movie "Lincoln." The 16th president did everything to get the Thirteenth Amendment passed, including standing outside a representative's house, selling federal jobs, cajoling and berating supporters and stalling emissaries from the South.
Lincoln knew that to get to his ideal - an end of slavery - he would have to roll up his sleeves and get messy.
The other half of the partnership are issues.
Issues are abstracts. Issues cross party lines. Look at our story on the Bluegrass Pipeline and try to figure out who's blue andwho's red. The issue of eminent domain refuses to be one color. It is an issue that crosses party lines. It joins liberal tree huggers with libertarian don't tread on me's.
Issues are everywhere. Issues unite us with those that agree with us and divide us from those on the other side. Think of the issues guaranteed to create walls between for and against. Gay marriage. Abortion. Fracking. Big government. Everyone seems to have an opinion pro or con.
Politics is everywhere. In church. At work. In the office. At school. On the basketball court. At the Olympics. Politics is about getting along. About getting somewhere. Politics is how we take divisive issues and find doors through those dividing walls.
We took up politics when we climbed out of the trees and huddled together on the savannah. Stick together or get eaten.
Refusing to understand the grassland of modern politics may be fashionable among the intelligentsia.
I'm just not sure it's smart.