Monday, February 15, 2010

A Dry Spell

There's a great scene in one of my favorite episodes of The West Wing, "The Stackhouse Filibuster," where Sam is asked who his favorite writer is. Sam's response is Toby, his colleague and fellow speech writer. When pushed for an answer as to who his favorite fiction writer is, he says "you're listening to him," as Senator Stackhouse reads David Copperfield on the television near by. It's a great exchange and one I've always thought of when people say that so-and-so influenced their writing style or they looked to such-and-such book for inspiration. However, as much as I enjoy the exchange and appreciate when a writer is able to pinpoint exactly where their inspiration comes from, I am not one of those writers. I have heroes and I have outside influences, but I can't pinpoint any particular writer, book or cause that drives my writing on any given day. Lately the things that usually light a fire under me don't seem to be working and the causes I am generally pleased to tout haven't driven me. Maybe I'm as fed up with the political discourse in this country as soon-to-be former Senator Evan Bayh is. Maybe I've lost faith that a solid argument means something in this world. Maybe I just can't hack it. Whatever it is, it's safe to say this is a dry spell.


N. Speth said...

I'm with you on being fed up. A solid argument means absolutely nothing anymore. The reason for this is simple. Nobody, no matter what side of the political fence you sit on, will ever be forced to encounter one thing that makes him/her question his/her world view at all.

Think about it. Conservatives can turn on Fox News or look up The Drudge Report, or World Net Daily and never be challenged. Liberals can turn to MSNBC or look at any of a dozen websites and get the same thing. We have so much information at our fingertips now that we're able to pick and choose the information sources we look at instead of getting all sides.

Not that I blame Fox News or MSNBC for this. The news is a business, and, as a middle school teacher I can testify to this, people don't like to think. Fox News and MSNBC give their viewers what they want, but it is damaging to the country.

Add to this the fact that most of us have shows like Crossfire or Hannity and Colmes (ah remember the days before Fox cast off its sole liberal) for our models on how to debate, so even when people do talk it's only waiting to spout memorized talking points, never considering the merits of the argument presented by the other side. Then you encounter real problems.

This is the reason the chasm between the left and the right is huge, because nobody is forced to think. There are probably more Yankee fans that change to Red Sox fans than there are Republicans that turn Democrat, and it works in reverse too. Politics is a team sport now, and its the uniform that makes the man. People like Joe Lieberman or Arlen Specter are, to continue this analogy, the Johnny Damons of the political world, hated the most because they switched teams.

So this is why I'm done with politics. I'm sorry this turned into a rant, but there you go. I'll be interested in hearing what you have to say about all this.


Anonymous said...

Nick is absolutely right on. We each are morally certain of our own position and it's easily shored up by our news sources.

I'm becoming less convinced that I can make a difference because I don't see any changes in the opposition. The fight seems to be for the undecideds, and they're becoming fewer as the years go by.

I'm getting old and tired, to boot.

Whence comes the new source of psychic energy? Is it just my time to turn over the reins to the next generation, and let them have a go? I don't want to let go but I'm in a dry spell, too.


Tara A. Rowe said...

I want to respond to you both, but I haven't found the words yet. Until then, this piece at Crooks & Liars is a start:

Tara A. Rowe said...

Nick--Do you find yourself shaking your head daily at your former party? Good lord some of these people are off the deep end!

N. Speth said...

I do, actually.

Tara A. Rowe said...

CPAC has been an eye opener to say the least.