Friday, January 07, 2005

Why poys?

The famous debates in 1858 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas dealt at great length with the grave subjects of the day, not the least of which was slavery. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the debates had their lighter moments, including this excerpt:
Mr. Lincoln: Now, gentlemen, I hate to waste my time on such things; but in regard to that general Abolition tilt that Judge Douglas makes, when he says that I was engaged at that time in selling out and Abolitionizing the old Whig party, I hope you will permit me to read a part of a printed speech that I made then at Peoria, which will show altogether a different view of the position I took in that contest of 1854.

Voice: "Put on your specs."

Mr. Lincoln: Yes, sir, I am obliged to do so; I am no longer a young man [laughter].

Part of Mr. Lincoln'’s genius was that he understood that politics does not have to take itself too seriously, even if it sometimes does. Politicians are as much media figures as are Hollywood stars, and are prone to just as many foibles, if not more. Partisan bickering is always fun to watch, even if it is sometimes painful, as is also the case when politicians spin so fast that the folly of it all can reach dizzying heights and knowing who said what or who really believes what can sometimes become a little unclear, as when it came to what Mr. Lincoln actually said at Peoria when he came up in 1854.

Looking to politics as a source of comic relief can be a form of ironic detachment. I often feel that I follow politics merely for personal consumption, just as much as the next person might read Sports Illustrated or Good Housekeeping. I say this because there is nothing I can do about most of the events that get front page coverage. There is nothing I can do about the more than 40 million people in this country who lack health insurance, nothing I can do about the violent crime rate, nothing I can do about the endangered species. There i’s even less than I can do on the global stage. There’s nothing I can do about Iraq, nothing I can do about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and nothing I can do about AIDS in Africa. Although I might be able to write a check every now and then and maybe contribute to local problems that slip under the radar of the national media, by and large, I feel a sense of distance from the events I read about in the New York Times. Regardless of whether this is due to problems of collective action or political access, our roles often seem marginal and political humor may be one of few ways of responding to the utter insignificance of the roles we play in politics that many of us may feel. Although there is nothing funny about many of these problems, putting on our specs can be a form of relief.

This blog will sometimes offer serious thoughts, but more often than not will be on the lighter side. Although I’'m fairly liberal, I will try to be an equal-opportunity offender (though the endangered status of Democrats in Washington may force me to make fun of Republicans a bit more than I would like). Most entries will be about politics, though it is possible that some will also be about law school, an institution in its own right with politics both ideological and petty in nature.

A final word. My observation of other blogs is that successful ones are updated on a fairly regular basis, while failed blogs have initial spurts of activity and then quickly die out. I will make every effort to post on a daily basis, even if it is only to offer a quick thought. There will be guest bloggers on those days when I cannot post.

I hope you enjoy this blog.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/10/2005 12:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

interesting...apparently apathy isn't just reserved for the uneducated. and in classic fashion i will fail to backup my aligation and end this comment here.


1/10/2005 12:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DG back to provide a proper response to this particular entry. I do not agree that politicians shouldn't take themselves so seriously. In fact, I think we are looking at the same politicians but with entirely different perspectives. I don't think politicans take themselves or their profession serious enough. Some do not understand what power they have to shape this nation and others around the world, and many of those who do - abuse the privledge. Yeah, for us - its fun to poke fun at what they do and I do think they should admit the errors of their ways from time to time but at the same time they should learn more from those errors than make light of them. Maybe if they did, the apathy this country has towards elected officials would change. And you too sir, are one of those individuals.

You stated rather eloquently that you can't do much about any of these tradegies happening locally and globally. You are partially correct. You probably won't find a cure for aids, erradicate homelessness, hunger, racism, etc, but you can certainly help. And even though you don't realize it, you already have. You admitted yourself you donate money from time to time to charity. Sure that $20 dollars doesn't seem like much to you but to someone who is in need of a jacket, or a few days worth of food, that $20 dollars can go a long way. It may only help one individual but imagine if more of us took the time to do what you did? And sir, it doesn't even have to be in the form of money. You just sharing your comments in this blog is good enough. It gets the dialog flowing and maybe enlighten people to what is going on in the world beyond the two foot radius around them.

Your mindset shouldn't be that its all dependent on you or any one individual to solve the world's problems. Though living in a capitalist nation it is constantly preached that the best way to get anything done is to do it yourself, working as one cohesive unit will solve some of the problems you and others believe you "can't do anything about."

1/10/2005 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger sling said...

i concur with DG..

good to see you blogging..

poys no doubt

1/12/2005 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger putonyourspecs said...

DG said that I needn’t have been so cynical about my ability to make a difference, suggesting that even if I alone cannot make any difference, I might be able to do so working as a group with others. I am skeptical of this argument because of the collective action problems that it presents. It assumes that we have the will to rise up, but most of us are too absorbed in the daily routines of our own lives to really have the strength to do much, if anything, about the world’s concerns. I barely have enough time with law school and all to really even keep up with the news as much as I would like. Other people I know hardly even follow the news because it is just not that relevant to their own lives. Someone I know didn’t even know Hillary Clinton was her senator, and his first response was “is she even allowed to be senator?!” But what difference does it make, now that he knows? Maybe this apathy is a consequence of how good we have it -- if things were really awful, then we might be moved to actually do something about it.

1/15/2005 10:43:00 PM  
Blogger Ha ha hit him again said...

But was Lincoln also a Log Cabin Republican? What are the chances of two homosexual presidents in a row?

1/24/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does sling try to act like some stereotypical boorish black-american?

5/09/2005 01:02:00 PM  

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