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Archive for March, 2011

*gasp* Yes, I am actually blogging, after a very (very) long lull. FYI, the title reference is from Final Fantasy XI.

In the “glorious” field of political science (note, here, I say political science, not politics), I often find myself in a discussion with people regarding the obvious topic of politics. It’s interesting to note that, regardless of the other person’s background, social status, age, or demographic, any person who comes to the realization that I am a Political Science major will naturally be inclined to “talk politics” with me. It doesn’t matter whether s/he’s even into politics, that person will simply hold a discussion about hating politics. In fact, even apathetic people will, at some point, note their apathy for politics.

I bring this up only because this allows me the “good fortune” to experience many conversations about politics, which has provided me a plethora of experiences with “political debates” (as some people would like to call it). And, while I wish this wasn’t the case, I find myself wishing, more often than not, that the topic of politics is never brought up in front of me. I am clearly not as experienced with other majors, but it seems to me that biology majors are legitimately interested in talking about biology, and anthropology majors like bring up their classes, even to non-majors.

This is not the case for me. Instead of being excited when people are actually interested in my field, I tend to dread the future conversations we may hold about the many layers of politics and the complexities that go with foreign relations, law making and international trade. More often than not, I feel pretentious for opening my mouth, so I tend to say nothing at all (whether other people perceive this as “wow this girl is a really dumb political science major” or not, I probably will never know).

This is a great way of degrading the conversation from an actual discussion to a one-sided lecture, where the other person is telling me about his/her ideology, political beliefs, opinions and overall criticisms of our government and economic system. I am not quite sure if this is an attempt to “bring me to their side” (which is curious, since I make actual efforts to never discuss my political ideology), but it’s always curious to see that people take my “silence” as “affirmation,” which encourages them to continue.

And while I would love to open my mouth in some sort of rebuttal, I fear that this will simply turn the discussion-turned-lecture into a heated argument, just because we don’t share the same political ideologies. Instead, I keep my tongue in check, and concentrate on making my mind wander off the topic of politics.

The worst is when the person doesn’t bring up any one specific issue or event, but instead talks about party politics and/or politicians. I think my least favorite thing to discuss is “who is in what party” and “why this party sucks more than others,” because it takes away from the importance of individual issues and forces other people into labels such as liberal, conservative, right-winged nut or democratic communist. I can already recall at least five or six incidents in which people go on (literally for hours) talking about “those right-winged, gun waving asshole,” or “That Muslim Communist Obama who wants to destroy our American way of life.” Honestly, it’s a bit embarrassing to even hear these things just because of their sheer lack of consideration of the other side.

And don’t even get me started when people start talking about media and politics (mind you, my other major is Communication with a concentration in Journalism and Mass Media). There is no overarching conservative or liberal bias through all the news stations. No singular news source will be completely unbiased. Your precious New York Times, Fox News, Wall Street Journal and MSNBC are filled to the brim with varying political biases and, no matter how much you may tout it to be “the more objective news source out there,” the truth is that reading one news source will severely limit your ability to think in multiple perspectives.

But that’s a story for another time. My point is, the worst “discussions” about politics are the ones where people are spouting out their political ideology and attempting to appear really knowledgeable about politics by throwing around popular words like “debt crisis” and “inflation” (inflation is probably my second least favorite buzz word, falling very closely behind “bipartisan”). Bringing up other people’s ideologies (e.g.: “My sister is an idiot hippie because she voted for Obama”) only makes it worse, as that other person may not be there (ergo, may not be able to defend him/herself) and might have their ideologies twisted and mutilated.

I don’t want to end it on a bad note, so I will say that there is definitely some political discourse that I enjoy greatly (I am a political science major, this does mean that I am actually interested in studying the political realm). I do love talking about bills being passed through Congress, international affairs that may affect our foreign policy and economic decisions made by the US Treasury. I like talking about the quarterly reports from the Federal Reserve, and I think it’s a lot of fun to discuss who would win in a bar fight: Merkel or Putin (my money’s on Merkel). These may seem “petty” and “lame” compared to grander topics of “political institutions” and “party system,” but I really don’t see the point in talking politics if it’s just going to be a trash talk between party platforms.

P.S.: I find myself rarely talking about political parties and whatnot to other Political Science majors. Usually, we stick to the topics that I mentioned already liking, or discuss how much we wish we were in the Middle East right now.

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