Here, ‘Politics’ Won’t Be a Nasty Word
Often, when people say “politics” or “political,” they spit the words out like bitter pills. And, rightfully so. Our public debate often devolves into shouting matches on TV, absurd farce, and vindictive pundits picking fights with each other on Twitter. And that’s a slow news day, without even getting into what our government actually is (or is not) doing. These words have become shorthand–a signal that somewhere nearby people are being small-minded, short-sighted, or are working an angle. Not only is that a far cry from civics classes that teach us about debating policy and how a bill becomes a law, but it doesn’t help us understand our public life and it’s not very interesting to read.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Politics isn’t supposed to be a game or a petty trading of favors, and political media should be more than shallow banter, two-sided debate, and bloviating egos. Government and politics represent a unique opportunity for our society to ask and answer big questions. What are our goals for this nation and its people? How do we protect and provide for ourselves and take care of one another? Where do we want to be tomorrow or next year or 10, 20, 100 years from now? How do we get there? What resources do we have to work with? How do we build and allocate those resources? How do we communicate about our problems and possible solutions? When and how do we assess our effectiveness? How do we correct ourselves when we’ve gone off course? And our media should enable us to understand, reflect upon, and engage in these debates.
Yes, that’s idealistic, but politics isn’t an arena where cynicism serves us well. Politics are the mechanics of how we, the people, are choosing to live together in our communities. People are making these choices every day. It is as important a process as it is a challenging one, but if we each do what we can, where we are, we just may find ourselves with systems that work. Not perfectly, but more perfect than if we’d never tried.
Since the beginning, The Good Men Project has been engaging in these kinds of discussions, asking serious questions about the perception and reality of power and privilege for men and outlining new interpretations of masculinity. Though these discussions have taken the form of personal reflection, commentary on current events, or lamentation of the status quo, they are implicitly political. Individuals reaching out into community to honestly assess how things are, how they ought to be, and what can and should be done is politics in its purest form. In this section, we’re going to apply that perspective to policy, law-making, governance, and how each of these things are reflected in our media.
We’ll be looking at the daily grind of Washington D.C. and the blogosphere, asking questions about current events and how they are reported. We will dig into policy concerns—from government surveillance to criminal justice, agriculture, labor, environmental issues, education and whatever else comes up. We will talk about issues that disproportionately impact men and boys, how these dynamics play out in individual lives, and how our political system works (or doesn’t) overall. And we’ll do all this from the perspective that the Good Men Project community can and should impact our politics and political media, including how those who are new to politics can get involved and work for change on an issue that matters to them.
This “we” includes you. We’re looking for facts and perspective on an array of issues and at all levels—local, state, federal, international. That’s everything listed above, and more. We want and need your help. What laws or regulations are being debated where you are? How are public officials working effectively or falling down on the job? Can you lend personal or professional perspective to an issue of the day? Have you, personally, been caught between how things are and how they ought to be? Let’s talk about it here.
Together, we’ll have a civil conversation. Feel free to start in the comments, below.
Image credit: Terriko/Flickr