Once upon a time, and by that I mean just a few years ago, I used to get emotionally involved in national elections and politics. Then I thought hard about it, and I realized that caring about this stuff all the time impacts my daily life in pretty much one way: mental stress, because both my ability to impact national events and the likelihood of those national events changing significantly are just above nil. So I looked at it rationally and realized that there was little point to maintaining the same level of emotional involvement: I still vote, I still support ideas, and I still read a lot of news, but that’s really about it in terms of brainpower. There are things in life that I can control, so in mental-energy allocation, I stick to those.
This has had varying success: I think political interest is pretty ingrained in me by now, but for the most part, cynical-but-rational detachment has been pretty good to me. I like Obama, but he hasn’t failed my 2008 expectations because mine were pretty down-to-earth anyway. Now the zen thing seems to be working again: sure, I’m bummed that lots of voters apparently can’t figure out what they want out of government, but these supposedly world-shattering GOPers are going to go to DC, make a bunch of noise about deficits, and then cut absolutely nothing meaningful in federal spending while actually worsening the deficit situation through further tax cuts. (This is actually in line with what the public wants, though, so you can’t accuse them of selling out their constituents.) In other words, nothing will change until the country is somehow forced to change, and we aren’t there yet. (Which is good.) In the meantime, one party won’t even consider logical steps like means testing, while the other party seems to think revenue is somehow unimportant to solvency. Caring about these illogical people all the time makes sense for one’s daily existence? I think not.
On the contrarian increased-involvement side, now that I’m a homeowner and have put down some roots in a city, I finally pay a lot of attention to local politics. So in that sphere, which does impact my life directly, I’ve now started to care significantly. But for the “tidal wave” and “historic permanent shift” and all that: I await the next permanent shift in 2012, and then the one in 2014. Meantime, I got work to do.