Sunday, January 17, 2010
So, while having dinner with Tim & Erika, it was brought up that politics in this country is more or less a diverting past-time without much consequence. In the sense that unless I flame out of academia, whether the health care reform passes, or whether a second stimulus is enacted, or whether financial regulatory reform is enacted, &c., all that is fairly immaterial to me. I hope, with effort & good luck, to land a job with good benefits, job security, and a comfortably middle-class income. And if the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan drags on and on... well, I am sure I am paying a couple of dollars for it every month, but it is hardly onerous. I worry about climate change, but then I am not a farmer whose livelihood may be ruined by it. That I feel strongly about this and that has almost nothing to do with self-interest. Largely, it is only because certain things violate my sense of The Way Things Ought To Be (TWTOTB); but then plenty of things violate that, e.g. fusion cooking, track suits, street layouts in Boston, &c. We mutter under our breath and then we move on.

In this sense politics is rather like professional sports. People get worked-up about teams whose performance is essentially inconsequential to the livelihood & material well-being of most fans, largely on certain notions of TWTOTB. For example, how is it reasonable that a green little team like Tampa Bay ended up winning the World Series when the Cubs have been trying, & failing, for over a century? [Really, I don't care.] Switching sports for a moment, after Michael Jordan retired, the regular refrain in Chicago through the subsequent losing seasons was always: where is the next Michael Jordan? Obama looked like the next Michael Jordan, except that, looking at how things are going, he probably isn't. And the rest of the team still sucks anyway. But so what?

[Of course one could be so unfortunate as to be living in a place like China, where politics can have real consequences. Even if you steer clear of anything remotely dangerous, you may still find that one day, you can no longer log onto Google. But good for you & me, we don't. (Blogger is blocked in China.)]


Right, I am not in Chicago anymore. Boston is a fine city, and I heartily approve of the Big Dig (and of removing elevated expressways from urban centers generally), but it feels a bit flat; it lacks grandeur (& Cambridge is just a smug little village). Chicago will always be the first city for me.