I love politics. I’ve loved politics for years, going back at least as far as high school when I volunteered for the gubernatorial campaign of Mel Carnahan. (I got to go to his inaugural ball as a result, which was incredibly cool.) If you count an abiding love of “Bloom County” as any kind of indicator, I’ve been interested in politics since middle school. (I loved that comic strip even though most of the jokes went sailing over my head.) Of the myriad ways my nerdiness made itself known, my willingness to hold forth about politics as a pre-adolescent was a biggie.
I love politics.
I also love pageantry. I am a sucker for hoopla and bombast and big, glorious celebrations. Much of why I enjoy the Olympics is all the fanfare that surrounds the Games themselves. Lord knows I’d be the last Oscar fan in the world to tell you I enjoy them because they legitimately reward artistic merit. I tune in for the glamour and the glitz, with an occasional award for true quality thrown in every once in a while to maintain the illusion that it’s why we’re really watching. Bring on the extravaganzas!
Finally, I like to think that I am an even-handed kind of guy. Perhaps I delude myself, but I believe I would vote for a Republican candidate if said candidate offered sane, reasonable policy alternatives for the country. Liberal that I may be, I can still see the merits in what conservatism has to offer, and unchecked liberalism is no better for the country than unchecked political philosophies of any stripe. We need robust debate for a healthy democracy, and unfettered access to power for one party alone is a recipe for disaster.
Unfortunately, not one single GOP candidate for president during the primary season got anywhere close to what I consider “sane and reasonable.” (The closest, Jon Huntsman, threw his lot in with the lunatics when he joined them in figuratively walking away from a ten-to-one debt reduction deal during the debates a year ago.) Maybe some previous iteration of the well-coiffed mound of silly putty we call Mitt Romney would have qualified, but not the one who will be accepting the party’s nomination later this week. Viewed as a whole, the offerings this cycle were the sorriest bunch of clowns I’ve ever seen, the antediluvian social opinions of some apparently more entrenched than I can believe for a party in 2012. Factor in the nakedly obstructionist tactics of the Republicans in Congress, and we’re left with a near-zero chance that I will be voting Republican anytime soon.
So as much as I love politics, and as much as I love pomp and circumstance and gigantic parties, I won’t be tuning in to any of the Republican convention. A not-insignificant voice in my head says that this is a failure of fair play on my part. If I am to be truly informed, says this voice, I should hear what each candidate and party has to say when they are saying it at their loudest and most organized. But since it is highly implausible that any of the GOP candidates or speakers will say anything to make me even consider voting for any of them (eg. “We were totally wrong about a lot of things, and have changed our minds in the following ways…”), it just seems like a waste of time. Given that the preview I heard of Romney’s speech had me yelling at the radio on my drive home yesterday (particularly the line that the President wants to make America like Europe, which would be hilarious if so many people didn’t think it was true), why should I do that to my blood pressure?
Perhaps I am not as evenhanded as I’d like to believe. Perhaps I don’t value being as fully informed as one would hope. After all, I will almost certainly tune in for at least some of the Democratic convention. In any case, I just can’t make myself do it, even with a well-mixed martini in hand for sustenance. I just know there will be something else on that I’d rather watch, even if it’s a blank screen.