Every day, news flows over the citizenry, over each and every one of us, and when it flows over me it triggers a flood of thoughts about our polity: about our politics, our economy, our people, and about where we as a country should be going.
Being a citizen is a pretty big thing. Yet it’s frustrating because the jobs of the citizen are pretty thankless; they’re pretty lowly. And depending on what kind of person you are, the kind of rote, unpromising gestures and duties that American citizens are assigned might not gratify certain aspects of your personality. Especially when being a citizen makes you feel taken for granted in some way. Sometimes it seems our only job is to evaluate an endless stream of pronouncements, of political advertising, of reportage, of events that are being mediated and spun in myriad ways. Once every couple of years we are urged to get up out of our chairs to vote.
Yet, being a citizen is a big deal; it’s a nebulous but theoretically momentous responsibility. You have to know a lot to be a citizen of the US, a lot more than you used to; to be a good citizen, at least. In a difficult period like this, the role of citizens is not inconsequential, no matter how it seems.
The affairs of the US advance in a stumbling, benighted way that most of us, understandably, find troubling. The economy is stalled, and it is difficult to relate to the machinations of our parties. Many political leaders seem insincere or self-interested; it’s difficult to tolerate their bravado and posturing.
I’ve gotten tired of talking back to the radio and TV. Not even talking back, just thinking back: just forming my opinions in my head in a reactive fashion, and then not doing anything with those thoughts, not doing anything with them at all. That’s been my M.O. for quite a long time, for many years, even. I need to give my husband a break, because, poor Bob, he’s the one who always ends up listening to me. He’s always there to hear my long disquisitions on what should be happening, on what we might all be doing differently. I’m naturally always working on that: on the alternatives to what is happening. Is it possible that, by flinging my ideas out on the internet, some of what I hope for might become a little more likely to occur? Discourse is the lifeblood of a republic like ours.