Sunday, August 01, 2004

Of politics, money and sausage

If you like money or sausage, the saying goes, don't watch either one being made. Add politics to the list of things from which the delicate should avert their eyes.

My friend, one of the wisest people I know, is disgusted with politics. I know what she means--the money, the egos, the manipulation of the media--and that's just at the county level (I added the last part). But, she says, she appreciates the freedoms our system provides.

To which the response came too late for the conversation--the price of the freedom, just as the price of sausage, is involvement.

A lot of us are like urbanites who think beef comes shrink-wrapped in styrofoam trays. We don't deal with the reality that a large beast with thoughtful-looking brown eyes had to die to make that hamburger. Or, for the vegetarians, a bean with a thoughtful-looking eye had to die to make that hummous. Human beings eat live things in order to survive. It's the condition of our life. We can't give life; we can at best convert it to energy.

Well, our political leadership doesn't come shrink-wrapped in styrofoam trays either. We've done pretty well at creating a system where nobody has to die to change power, no small benefit. Outsiders may play down the differences, as may those who benefit by misleading the undecided, but the philosophical underpinnings of the various administrations have lasting consequences, as we have learned again and again.

Citizens of the United States, who are responsible for the direction of the world's current hyperpower, have no excuse for squeamishness. If we don't like the recipe for political sausage, we need to get in there and change it. If we appreciate the freedoms our system affords us, we need to get in there and preserve them.

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