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A political dropout confesses

Keeping informed these days has become painful

Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 9:58 a.m. CDT

After feeling guilty of late for losing interest in America’s political landscape, I decided to go to confession.

“Father, forgive me, for I have sinned. Like so many low-informtion voters, I am having trouble maintaining interest in what is going on in Washington.”

“Explain, my son.”

“Father, polls by the Pew Research Center and others routinely show that the percentage of Americans who closely follow politics and government is relatively low. Only about one-third of Americans are informed.”

“You’re saying that 70 percent of Americans aren’t paying close attention to what’s happening in Washington?”

“Yes, father. What’s worse is that the majority of Americans have no awareness or concern about the big issues of our day: our debt, runaway spending and deficit. None of these will get fixed if the majority doesn’t care.”

“This is not good, my son. In a representative government, the representatives need to be closely monitored by the people. So why haven’t you been paying attention?”

“Like many other Americans who do keep closely informed, I feel somewhat powerless, father. Keeping informed these days is painful.”

“Painful?”

“Our government and political leaders keep making one stupid move after another — moves that are taking the greatest country in the history of mankind in a direction that may sink us, just as other great countries have been sunk throughout history.”

“Some examples, my son?”

“Spending is the biggest one, father. How long we can sustain these massive deficits is anyone’s guess. Now we have a new federal entitlement, ObamaCare, that will drive up costs and spending all the more — when we already have trillions of dollars in unfunded future liabilities. How are we going to pay for this?”

“I see.”

“Regulations are another area of concern. Small businesses in America, the lifeblood of our economy, are under assault. Every year, they must comply with hundreds of new regulations — 854 new ones in 2012, according to Forbes. It is getting harder to create the jobs our country needs, jobs that will produce the taxes we need to pay our bills.”

“This is not so good, my son.”

“Worst of all is that there appear to be no consequences. Politicians can do whatever they wish, good or ill, and they pay a very small political price. There are so many people who vote now who are not paying attention to politics. Any politician with the proper celebrity appeal can win their votes, regardless of what he or she does in office.”

“And this is why you are tuning out of politics?”

“That is correct, father. I am a wee bit despondent, I do admit. It is painful to follow politics and I find myself tuning out every chance I get. I have decided to turn my attention to more trivial matters, such as enjoying pints of Guinness at my favorite Irish pub and talking about sports and my favorite television shows.”

“My son, I understand your guilt. The heart of a democracy is the people, and the people’s participation and interest in the governing process are critical.”

“It is the truth, father.”

“When nearly two-thirds of a country is asleep, that cannot bode well for that country’s future — particularly one that is grappling with severe challenges that could well sink our future if they are not addressed right now.”

“I know it, father, but I have to go right now. There is a beer and hot wing sale at the Irish pub. I better get there before the other low-information voters eat all of them.”

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.

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