Everything is not about politics.
We all had lives, and still do, that turn not on whether Republicans and Democrats are wrangling for center stage, but whether we have food on the table, whether we can pay the rent or mortgage, whether our children are safe, and an almost endless list of responsibilities and aspirations which have nothing to do with politics.
So why has it become all about politics?
Decades ago, I traveled to the then Soviet Union. Moscow was, as an overall statement, a grey and dreary city. Its people were clearly suspect and afraid of anyone or anything that might get them labeled anti-government. Conversations were guarded. Food and housing were expensive. Yet, I was struck by the fact that a ticket to the Bolshoi ballet was $.25. In case you read that wrong, or think I made a typo, allow me to literally spell it out. Tickets were twenty-five cents.
I lived in Philadelphia back then. A day trip to New York City was common and easily achieved. Its was an hour and a half train ride. But if I wanted to go see a Broadway play in Manhattan, I had to be prepared to pay $50-$150 per ticket. You can imagine my shock at the cost of the Bolshoi, one of the premiere ballet companies in the world. In hindsight, I came to understand why admission was so inexpensive.
In a country where there was so much political oppression, fear, lack of income and sparse affordable housing of any quality, the corrupt oligarchy that constituted the Communist Party needed to placate the populace. To provide them with a distraction from reality, if you will. At the ballet, Russians were distracted, lost in the beauty and the fantasy. It was an escape from the harsh reality of life in the Soviet Union. With that purpose in mind, it was made affordable for everyone.
For awhile I thought our “Bolshoi” here was reality TV but I have come to realize its our political drama. It is the distraction that keeps us from not only living our lives with some sense of calm, but it also keeps us from focusing on what really matters.
While these two infantile parties are throwing stones and accusing one another of everything from inappropriate sexual advances to insider trading, we are distracted from the death throes of the Constitution which is the foundation of our nation. While one party is calling the other “traitors” or “insurrectionists” and the counter punch is yelling back “Socialist” or “Marxist,” we are distracted from exponentially escalating depression and suicide rates. While one party is trying to impeach a former opposition President (for the second time) and the other party is locked in an internal battle, we are distracted from the fragility of our economy, how our children are being educated, our alienation from one another and how our overall quality of life diminishes day by day.
The media has made politics our Bolshoi. Its better than cheap. Its free. It is the headline, the lead, the story. Its everywhere we go. Every day. On every device. We are distracted. But more importantly, we are addicted. The purveyors of distraction have succeeded. Like the drug addict who hates her addiction but keeps coming back for more, we complain about all the political nonsense and then we come back for more.
So long as we participate in this parasitic charade, we feed the beast.
As with any addiction, the answer is cold turkey. If we want to free up the time and energy necessary to attend to those aspects of life that really matter, we must give up the addiction. This does not mean you cannot devote some portion of your time and resources to causes you believe in.
It just means that so long as you are going to “the ballet” to distract yourself and escape from the responsibility to tend to the important things in life that need your attention and require your hard work, you will be entertained but not much else…and life will remain dismally the same.
The only ones who profit from addiction are the purveyors of what has you hooked. Repeat the following sentence to yourself each day: “Politics is my ticket to the Bolshoi.”