Vincent Scarpa wants to talk politics, and he’s inviting everyone into the discussion.
I do not know everything I should.
I’ve gone back and forth for hours on how I should open my introduction to the Politics section here at The Good Men Project, but nothing felt as appropriate as that simple admission. I don’t know everything I should, but I like to think that I know a fair amount. More importantly, I like to think that I’m always in pursuit of knowledge. I’m comforted by facts and figures, by polls, by context and framework, by extensive research, but I’m also interested in the mindsets and dispositions of the American citizen beyond what can be quantified in such manners. Whether they are to the right of me (which, admittedly, many are) or to the left of me (I’m looking at you, Roseanne Barr), I have a genuine fascination with the way people think about issues of policy; what ideas and motivations, be they preconceived or media-learned, influence someone who is pro or anti-anything.
I reject, with vim and vigor, the notion that religion and politics don’t make for dinner conversation. There’s nothing I’d rather talk about. I’m bored to tears by sports, by gossip, by the repetition of the day’s agenda. Let’s get to Gaza: your thoughts? This silly rule that sociopolitical discussion is somehow impolite is in fact a Trojan horse for “I don’t care enough,” “I don’t know enough,” or “I’m unwilling to acknowledge my capacity to be polarizing to someone whose views are diametrically opposite mine.”
I make a point to say this because I think too often there’s a dehumanization that happens when we discuss politics and issues of social justice, and that’s something I will humbly try to avoid and undo in my work as the editor of this section. Because politics are people, and people are politics. Mitt Romney’s infamous “corporations-are-people-my-friend” soundbite? That’s true, just not in the context he intended. Corporations are run by people. There are faces and bodies and human lives behind every progressive and conservative political organization, every fair and crooked bank, every domestic and foreign terrorist cell. Issues of policy are not decided by The Government, they’re decided by people with mailboxes and obnoxious relatives and pet-themed computer passwords. They, like us, often experience poor cellular reception.
When we lift the human element from our dialogue, when we replace it with non-sentient constructs like Government or Corporations, or else opt for the names of countries rather than the people who make up its governing force, what we’re actually doing is shifting action and accountability into an abstract ether. We do the same thing when we say things like, “Money is the root of all evil.” Keeps the blood off our hands, does it not? If it’s money that’s evil, and not the fraud nor the cheat nor the thief nor the war criminal, look how much easier it is to talk about money, and therefore evil. It becomes very convenient not to have skin in that game.
Perhaps all of that is a mealy-mouthed way of getting to my point: I want the work that appears in this section to be different. It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be able to curate this section, and I hope you’ll come to think of it as nuanced in its delivery, diverse in its coverage, and thoroughly human in its approach and analysis.
But I can’t do all of this alone, which is why I’m looking for contributors. I want to curate content that matters; pieces that demand attention. I’m interested in every possible viewpoint there is: left, right, up, down. Wherever you’re approaching it from—that is, if you’re approaching it with clarity, research, and humanity—is a place I’m willing to go. Those are my purposefully vague prerequisites. If you’ve got an idea you’d like to pitch, something you’d like to cover, an opinion you’re feeling pressed to share, or anything in between, please do reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by MCAD Library / flickr