In Apathy We Trust

Tim Bean

9/29/2012

 

I am curious as to whether or not “We the People” even care about the Constitution anymore.  Don’t believed me?  The next time you are talking with another person and the subject of politics comes up, simply mention the word constitution.  I am willing to bet that almost immediately upon hearing the word you will see the other person’s eyes roll and probably will then walk away.  Sure, mentioning the constitution could be a good way to extricate yourself from conversations with people you don’t want to talk to, but the fact that most people nowadays don’t want to hear anything about the Constitution probably isn’t such a good thing – in fact I know it can’t be good at all.

For those of you who don’t know, or more precisely don’t care anymore, the Constitution is the document that allows you not to care anymore.  I know that sounds strange, but that 200+ year old document is what gives you the right to not care, as well as many more important rights.  By now I realize that me simply mentioning that boring word (constitution) so many times already that the vast majority of you have already tuned out, but for those of you who are still with me – who I fear is a very small number – I will press on.  You see our founding fathers were more than a bunch of rich white dudes, who owned slaves; they were actually a bunch of really smart people too.

The slave ownership part is what is often used by many people to try and discredit our founding fathers as a bunch of hypocrites, and I will agree that the fact that many of these men were engaged in one of the most horrid things a person can do to another person, it shouldn’t take away from the literal meaning of this document that they based our entire country on.  The fact of the matter is that many of our founding fathers wrestled with the moral dilemma they put themselves in by stating their belief that all men are created equal, and have the right to be free.  Unfortunately for them they let politics get in the way and didn’t end slavery upon defeating the British and establishing The United States of America.  Politics – it’s always politics that can screw up a good thing isn’t it?

Aside from the unfortunate and national scar of slavery, which by the way doesn’t exist in this country anymore, if you take the Constitution at its literal word, and apply it as it is intended, then I would think that a lot more people would actually embrace it and be willing to fight tooth and nail for it.  At its core, the Constitution basically tells the federal government to mind its own business and let the citizens live their lives as they see fit (with the absence of force).  Today however it seems that more and more people are not just willing to, but are actually welcoming more and more government intrusion into their daily lives, and that bothers and frightens me.

I don’t want to welcome a gray monolithic bureaucracy telling me what it sees as the proper way to live my life.  It isn’t that my life is some kind of rogue existence on the fringes of socially acceptability, it isn’t.  My life is actually quite normal, more in on the boring side of things, so this isn’t me looking for justification for outlandish behavior.  Rather it is me wanting to be able live a life without having to go through a mile of red tape to do so.

I don’t know, maybe living that way is now just a pipe dream of a bunch of dead, rich white dudes, some of whom owned slaves, and as such can never be taken seriously; which means that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all things that the government can tell us how to do.  Yeah, and maybe we should all start calling our friends and colleagues “comrades” from now on too . . .

Look, I know we are not quite the Soviet Union, where pretty much all aspects of our lives is regulated, controlled, and passed through government filters.  However, if you are even slightly paying attention to things that have been passed, are proposed to being passed, and since this is an election year, the many things that candidates are promising to get passed, then you have to begrudgingly admit that more and more of our lives are being regulated, controlled, and monitored.  Yet, the vast majority of us don’t really seem to care.

I know, I know, it is hard to be outraged at something(s) that doesn’t seem to intrude egregiously on your life.  Today, for example, many, many people are watching college football – I’m watching a game as I’m writing this, and they are doing so without any government hindrances.  Tomorrow many more people will watch NFL games, without having to get some sort of government approval; but let me ask you some questions.

Do you think it is right that the government can, does, and is monitoring your cell phone conversations?

Do you think it is okay that the government can, does, and is monitoring your social media activities?

Do you think it is okay that if the government finds that it doesn’t particularly like what you are saying or posting that they can detain you without court order?  (Ask Brandon Raub how that feels).

Do you think the government should be able to block your access to whatever internet site(s) it deems unacceptable; particularly if you are a grown adult in your own home?  I know, everyone’s first thought jumps directly to pornography, but at present it is already illegal to access online gambling sites, and they are blocked; and yes there are proposals to block and censor sites that are deemed pornographic, which is a rather open ended, and subjective word for sure (what you may deem pornography another person may not).

Do you think a government should regulate how much of something as innocuous as soft drinks you can buy?

Do you think the government has the right to tell you what foods your child eats, or whether you can feed your new infant formula?

I could continue to ask more and more questions, but I hope you get the idea here.  Few of those questions asked are really direct hindrances to just about anyone’s lives.  None of them are going to preclude you from watching football, or any other popular television show.  None of them require driving through checkpoints on your way to work.  None of them ask you to show your ID when you’re driving from one state to another.  Quite honestly, almost all of them really have as close to zero effect on your day to day activities; but nonetheless many of the subjects in those questions are already in place, and the ones that aren’t are being proposed.  Here’s the thing though.  Remember that piece of paper that you don’t care about anymore, the one called the Constitution of the United States?  Well, each and everything asked in my series of questions runs counter to the rights prescribed in that document that you have no interest in; and as long as you don’t care about it, then our elected officials, and those seeking to be elected officials don’t and won’t care about it either.

Elections are never really fun to watch or pay attention to for just about everyone who isn’t paid to watch or pay attention to them.  Elections are easy to tune out from because quite honestly most of the people running for whatever office they are seeking aren’t very likable.  Most of the campaign ads have gotten so negative towards one another it is near impossible to really know what is really true, or which candidate you should dislike the least.  The conventions are scripted, the debates are scripted, and the campaign stops are scripted, so as few of the details is actually discussed.  The media has shown a propensity to want to show either fluff pieces or smear pieces on whichever candidate they like or dislike more; rather than actually reporting on the facts and issues.  Yet in less than forty days, “We the People,” the very first three words of that Constitution neither you nor our elected “representatives” seem to give a frog’s flying fat ass in Hell about anymore, will do our civic duty and cast our ballots for whom we wish to continue to violate that document and the remaining rights it grants to each and every one of us.  We will then retire to our homes, tune into some mindless television show, and breathe a sigh of relief that we no longer have to think, or pay attention to elections or politics for another two years.

 

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.  (Robert M. Hutchins)

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