Why Should I PERSONALLY Care About Politics?

What do you think a collective is made up of?

And any one person added to that collective would have changed the result.

While the country is, nominally, a democracy the primary goal of our governmental system is that trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive people will be empowered to do the hard work of analyzing policy and making choices that affect all of us.

Your job, as a citizen, is not to research the issues, propose solutions, nor fight for those solutions. If you were doing that, honestly, then we’d have 300,000,000 proposals out there and we’d each be fighting for our own personal idea. What we see, where there’s 2-3 mega-proposals and everyone’s grouping up on one side or the other is what the framers of the Constitution was trying to avoid - where factions form, try to rope together a majority through shared religion/race/lifestyle/etc., and push their ideas on the minority through simple force of numbers.

Do your job as a citizen. Don’t get involved in politics. But do get involved in voting. Just go through the people on the ballot and try to reward the trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive people who hold up their hand to run for office. Don’t give your vote to the ones who don’t.

Outside of the one day in your life that you’re doing that, every two years, enjoy your life and try to stay something close to a trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive person yourself. Nothing more is needed nor healthy for the country.

You know why. You just disagree with that line of thought. There’s really no point in this thread unless you examine your motivation for not wanting to care instead of shooting down all the well-meaning but futile explanations.

You may be right that your individual vote probably will not change an election. Your attitude, on the other hand, might. If you say to all your friends “why bother to vote? It’s all worthless. We’re doomed!”, you’ll probably convince one or two who might have voted not to vote. Now, that’s 3 less votes for the side you’re on. what if your two friends are spouting your nihilism and convince 2 others each not to vote. That’s 7 fewer votes.

Now look at the other side. They’ve got a single issue that they’re pumped up about. They’re talking to their similar-minded friends, and they’re so pumped up on this issue. It convinces two of their friends who weren’t going to vote to vote. Now, the vote on that issue has just swung 10 votes; many elections have been won on slimmer margins.

You’re one person. Imagine how many might be in your position; how many might be in the other position. John J. Average isn’t heard, and Jane Q. Anonymous gets her pet issue addressed.

Now, let’s go the other direction. You’re not passionate about political issues; you just want to be able to drive on reasonable roads, do you 8 hours at work, grab a beer on the way home. Someone’s got to pay for those roads, but Jane Q. Anonymous’ candidate is a “Trickle Down Economics” guy - let’s cut the taxes on the rich and on corporations! Now, there isn’t enough money for roads. Jane Q.'s candidate is a teetotaler, so now alcohol is banned in your town. She’s been emboldened because she got a MANDATE in the last election. Well, if you and your friends had voted, it would have been a slimmer margin, and Jane Q’s candidate might say “Maybe the people don’t want this…” (yeah, I’m old - this is how politics used to work).

Of course I disagree with that line of thought. I literally cannot do anything as an individual to affect the wider political trajectory of this country. It’s not that I don’t want to care, it’s that there is literally nothing I can do. Please, tell me exactly how I can fix all the problems within this country AS AN INDIVIDUAL.

Sure, I could vote, donate, or verbally support what I want to happen. But, that contribution is minuscule and is not really meaningful. It is borderline wish-fulfillment to believe otherwise. I want to live in a society where even the smallest person can make a difference. But, deep down, we both know that that is not true. Even in elections that are won or lost by one vote, my vote would still not matter in the grand scheme of things because it is statistically insignificant. Even if my vote was somehow the deciding factor in a close race, if a simple recount was called, the margin of error is going to be larger than my individual vote.

That’s a a nonsense request as several previous answers have pointed out. Be honest, what is it you hoped to achieve with this thread?

Did you really think someone would have the magic trick to allowed you, an unremarkable individual out of several hundred million to solve the problems they are collectively creating and don’t currently agree on how to solve?

Or did you just want to spread your apathy to make you feel less bad about it?

Or … what?

By the way, OP … sometimes the best reason to get at least minimally involved and vote is … who wants you not to do exactly that.

When you think about Trump’s appointment to Postmaster General, and the rapid and timely dismemberment of the US Postal Service … that legendarily brought the US Mail to a near standstill … in advance of an election that was going to be heavily mail-in … and

Trump was encouraging his supporters not to use mail-in ballots … and

Trump was trying to get the vote counting to stop before the mail-in ballots were counted (they tend to be counted after in-person ballots) … and

The gerrymandering and voter suppression laws designed to dissuade minorities from voting … and

The machinery that’s going into truly rigging the system so that the coup d’état that failed last time won’t fail the next time … and

The not so subtle efforts targeting younger, more liberal voters in an effort to dissuade them from voting:

Maybe the mere fact that so much time, effort, money, and thought is put into keeping you from voting … should be a strong motivator to stand up and be counted.

Yawn. Hasn’t the trope of sitting in the street with a “prove me wrong” sign been done to death? And aren’t they always wrong?

You know who says you’re wrong? Republicans/conservatives. They’ve spent the decades since Nixon organizing on the smallest levels. They went after school boards, and town councils, and city wards, and state legislatures, and every other votable position from county judge to railroad commissioner. They crusaded for abortion. They fought mask mandates. They insisted that textbooks reflected their warped version of history. They won thousands of battles, from the bottom up, to get into a winning position today.

You know who else says you’re wrong? Democrats/liberals. They fought for civil rights, and gay rights, and interracial marriage, and women’s rights, and legal contraception, and ends to censorship, and marijuana laws, and a thousand other cultural war victories from the bottom up, to win all that battles.

All of these massive changes over the past half decade started with small groups of individuals massing together to make their voices heard and to vote people into power to make laws.

It really started with the Civil Rights Law of 1965, and you’d have to be delusional to claim for one second that individuals deciding to get involved in politics were not 100% responsible. It also happened with the Clean Air Act of 1970 - yes, under Nixon - also the culmination of local groups banding together to scream loudly about a problem.

I could fill the character count of this post with more examples. But you already know them. You live them every moment of every day. All that politics you claim you hear are all about them. And you know how many are started top down by the people in the federal government? None. Exactly none. Each and every one was started by individuals getting involved.

Do organized groups of individuals have louder voices than any one individual? Sure. Do the rich have louder voices than any one individual? Duh. Do elections count? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. You standing off to the side with your “prove me wrong” sign doesn’t make you an individual. It includes you in a group whose collective actions decides issues and decides elections and decides the future. You can’t get around that with age-old cliches. You’re nothing more than a flat earther decrying science.

Want to know the easiest way to prove a flat earther wrong? Point to the world and say “it works.” The world does work but only because every equation, from the plans for a bridge to communication satellite transmission, relies upon using spherical geometry, i.e, the world being a sphere.

And the political world works because every line of every law came from individuals getting themselves involved.

So, stop the nonsense. You know the answer. Your being deliberately provocative is boring and counterproductive and completely unconvincing.

So it’s “nonsense” to point out that every single element of our government is run by the wealthy and powerful? It’s nonsense to acknowledge how statistically irrelevant the individual voter is? To point out how flawed our system is?

What exactly did you want to contribute to this thread, other than to perpetuate a clearly flawed system by blind idealism?

No. I was hoping that someone could point out how an individual could make an actual difference. Practical advice to make a bigger difference than what one voter is usually capable of. So far, most of the responses have just been a variation of “every vote matters” which is just untruthful. My vote is statistically irrelevant, and i’m not in a position to change the opinions of others.

Absolutely not.

You know? That is a very good point. It is a sign that peoples votes as a collective do matter if people in power are actually trying to discourage it. But, that still does not answer my question in regards to individuals.

Here’s a slightly philosophical take on it, but I agree with the others: I don’t even know you but I feel quite sure that you know this.

SOURCE

I didn’t vote in 2016 because of apathy, but I did in 2020 and my guy won. Coincidence? Maybe. Collective? Probably.

That’s a beautiful way to put it, thank you. I guess I should just give up on trying to make a difference as an individual. Maybe I should just put my trust into a group/s that shares my values and speak out for me instead? I guess i’m just disillusioned because I cannot do anything personally.

1 - If your child is an alcoholic, you spend every day trying to convince them to give up alcohol. Every day you’re going to fail…right up to the point that you succeed. You do it not because you think that “today is going to be the day”, you do it because it’s a person you love and it needs to be done.

2 - Imagine that you were chosen as a movie tester for Hollywood. Your job is to watch a movie and then fill out a sheet that gives your honest opinion on the quality of the movie. As one in several dozen people in the testing panel, your feedback isn’t necessarily going to have any effect. A lot of the movies that you thought were trite crap continue on to be sold to the general public, without modification.

Does that suck? Perhaps, yes.

But if that’s your job, then that’s your job. And the issue isn’t the movies so much as it is the taste of the rest of your species. But to the extent that there’s ever any movies that come out that are smart and meaningful, that’s because there’s some indication out there in the world that there’s at least some appetite for such a thing. Minus that signal and you can be certain that there’s never going to be any movies like that.

And they lost every branch of government within a month. What’s your point?

Yes. Those are things that they did as a group, not an individual.
As a democrat/republican/independent, I might be able to do these things. But as @SmartBulbInc? Not a chance. There is nothing that I could do as an individual to change the political landscape of this country.

Exactly, groups, not individuals.

Maybe not top-down by the federal government. (Even though that is debatable.) But absolutely top-down via the rich and powerful. To even have the ability to vote on an issue, you have to have the issue on a ballet. How do you get an issue on a ballet? It has to become popular. How does an issue become popular/well known? Advertising and exposure. What do you need to have (sufficient) advertising and exposure? Money and influence.

I’m being deliberately proactive? You literally just said this:

Equating me with insane conspiracy theorists or Trump supporters is clearly bad-faith debating on your part. Especially since I have never personally insulted you in any way.

This is an excellent answer. Although. I do have to ask, do you think that there is any greater moral duty to voting even if as an individual you vote does nothing?

Still, a very good answer. I have always thought of voting as something done for practical purposes, not as some greater moral duty.

Yes.

If you have children then your children probably live here. If they have children, those children are likely to live in this country, too. If you don’t have children, you might have a brother/sister who has children. If you have friends, they might have children.

Ultimately, if you care for any American person, wish them well, and wish their family well then you have some duty to do your best by all of those people. And that means fulfilling your civic duties - serving on a jury, voting for people that society can trust to lead us, etc. Maybe little good comes of that but, definitely, only bad occurs by having all the smart people who can do math on probabilities deciding to shirk the work.

How about a swing district? How about a swing state district? How about a swing district judgeship? How about a swing local school board?

If none of those, how about a primary within the majority party, at one or more of those levels, between somebody relatively sensible and somebody entirely off the wall?

And if you’re not paying attention to politics: how could you possibly know?

True to a point. Nobody can remotely reasonably research every issue likely to come up even before a school board, let alone before the Federal legislature (the people in office can’t either, they have staff to try to handle most of it.) And people holding vehement opinions on issues they know little or nothing about is most certainly part of the current problems.

But there are at least four problems with just selecting someone who’s “trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive” without paying any attention to their stance on any of the issues.

For one, two people who are both “trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive” may disagree on issues – including on issues that affect whether people in their district, the OP and immediate circle included, live or die. This seems to me to be happening less than it used to, because it seems to me that a lot more unreasonable, uninquisitive, and therefore untrustworthy people are running for office; but it still happens.

For two, it’s not always all that easy to tell who’s “trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive”. It’s often easy to tell when somebody’s off the wall – but some people who are none of those things are pretty good at appearing as if they are, at least in their public presentations. If they’ve got a voting record, that’s useful information – but you need to know something about what they’re voting on for that record to mean anything to you. If they have no voting record but they have a party platform, that’s useful information – but you need to know something about what the issues are for that platform to mean anything to you.

For three, while you may well not have an opinion on how the organic livestock acquisition rule should read or whether horizontal hydrofracking should come under home rule in New York State, you almost certainly do have opinions on a batch of things; and you should try to check what you know about the subjects. Lots of people who thought they were and who generally were perceived as “trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive” were against gay marriage, say, 50 years ago – because they didn’t know anywhere near as much as they thought they did, and because a lot of what they thought they knew wasn’t so. People who actually are trustworthy, reasonable, and inquisitive will change their minds based on evidence.

And for four: because there are issues on which people live or die, or live in misery instead of relative comfort. Lots of people. And if any given person thinks they and those they care about are guaranteed not to be among them: they may well be in for quite a nasty surprise. So voting for candidates while having no idea where they stand on these issues is not a great idea.

The OP and current posters are unlikely to be the only ones who ever see the thread.

Oh, good grief. Pick a particular problem, and work on that. With other people.

Or go hide at home with all news sources turned off and pretend there’s nothing you can do; until something you’ve been trying to ignore comes and breaks the door down, because too many individual people each didn’t do anything.

Or, I suppose, do your best to convince other people to go hide at home with all news sources turned off and pretend there’s nothing they can do. But that isn’t exactly not caring about politics, is it?

Maybe you should find a group that at least mostly shares your values, and show up and help that group out. Including talking with them about any issues they disagree with you on – you’re unlikely to agree totally with anybody – and including helping them get others to vote along with them.

Or, at least, not trying to convince them all not to vote because you think it doesn’t matter.

Nope. They took the judiciary.

Yet again: what the hell do you think groups are made up of?

You have convinced me. I have never really heard this argument before. It’s not about making a difference as an individual, it’s about trying your best to make the best with what you have. Maybe I should focus less on changing the world, and more on how to positively effect the world as I can now.

Thank you for this! :+1:

It’s worth pointing out that @Sage_Rat is one person, and he/she/they just made a difference :wink: