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Every four years, we make a decision. We spend months fighting over it, talking about it, posting about it on Facebook. Some weigh the pros and cons of this decision seriously; some follow the crowd. Everyone must take a side.
And then there are those pesky few of us who struggle to get excited for either candidate — the people who see that the choice is no choice at all. I try not to fill this blog with political opinions, but today I’m going to make an exception. As Aristotle put it, “man is a political animal.”
Last night, I was watching the election results trickle in with my girlfriend, my friend and her boyfriend (sounds like the set-up to a really bad joke, doesn’t it) and I was struck by a profound sense of apathy. I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and I was excited. He was going to bring about a new era of hope and change, but he didn’t deliver. I was naive. The American presidency is not a person, but an institution and it has its own logical and behavior that doesn’t change from one administration to the next.
Studying political science left me jaded. The presidency has consolidated too much power. Congress is increasingly filling with ideologues. Extremists hold moderates hostage and the middle that everyone claims to belong to gets kicked around by parties who differ so little in their views that it doesn’t really matter who holds power.
This independent wants more choices, but we won’t get them any time soon. Our leaders will make no attempt to negotiate; our political parties will remain beholden to special (read: well-funded) interests; popularity will reign over prudence. Democrats are just as blind to the truth as Republicans and vice versa.
Nothing will change and that is the great American tragedy.
I hope I’m wrong. I really hope I’m wrong and I wish the president and Congress the best of luck as they face the challenges that await. This country is my home and I believe in its promise. I just think we’ve temporarily lost our way.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and photographer in Flagstaff, AZ who is a registered independent with liberal social beliefs and moderate/conservative fiscal beliefs. In May, he graduated from NAU with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Political Science. He likes cold pizza, long drives and Twitter (@jonnyeberle). Next time, I’ll admit how far behind I am on my novel…