Politics. Particularly presidential politics. Bah, humbug.
Here in Iowa, with its first in the nation caucus status, presidential candidates are seemingly everywhere and that’s enough to bring out the Scrooge in anyone who has a fondness for Christmases past.
Selecting a president is serious business, but the selection process is in drastic need of overhauling. Scarcely a day goes by when I’m not invited to an event to cheer on one candidate or another. Even more ubiquitous are the endless phone calls from pollsters and robotic messages from celebrity supporters or local political luminaries. My daily mail includes as many political flyers as legitimate holiday greetings these days.
These unwelcome, unsolicited and annoying interruptions are the byproduct of a system that places an unwarranted emphasis on the amount of money raised, fake “debates” and a dizzying array of polls. These have become the criteria by which we measure our candidates these days, with real positions on real issues obscured by campaign spin machines, self-anointed pundits and obtuse analysis by a mainstream media caught in the backwash of a muddied tide largely of their own making.
It hasn’t always been this way, of course. Former Speaker of the House Thomas "Tip" O'Neill once famously declared that, "All politics is local." His point was that locally elected officials play at least as significant a role in the lives of an individual as those representatives sent off packing to Washington. While presidential politics rule the airwaves now, expect local races to heat up next year in advance of the 2008 general election.
How has politics impacted your family history? Do you have any current or former elected officials in your family tree? Do you vote along the same party line as your parents? Have you lived in a mixed political household, where family member supported different parties? How did that play out in your family dynamics? Has any politician had a profound or direct impact on your life or the life of another family member?
Understanding the role that politics has played in your family could give you additional insight into how your family functioned.
Larry Lehmer is a personal historian and founder of When Words Matter. He helps people preserve their histories through their family stories. To learn more, check out his web site or send him an e-mail.
Flickr photo courtesy of LateNightTV.