There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men
Maybe you’ve noticed the absence of politics-related posts at this site. I grew tired of openly talking about politics sometime in high school when it became clear that the time-honored tradition of civil debate and discourse had coarsened into catchphrases and paranoia. I compared Walden and other essays by Thoreau to essays by William F. Buckley and Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. and more contemporary essayists who focus on politics and matters of the state to assess the changes in language, tone, delivery, etc. While I feel that there are still a large number of well-articulated essays on politics published each year, the majority appear in academic publications or what are considered “high-brow” publications (The New Yorker), while the popular essays are poorly articulated and generally unappealing to me.
If I want to make myself feel bad and disillusioned, I visit any public forum (whether it’s on a social media site or chat forum) and I see exactly what I wish was not the norm in the United States when it comes to public discourse: half-truths masquerading as facts, scant usage of facts, and people who can’t articulate any ideological basis for their beliefs.
When I arrived at Harvard, I considered becoming involved with political organizations on campus. After two weeks at Harvard, I knew I would never be part of such an organization due to the sheer size of some (the Harvard Dems bill themselves as the largest partisan political organization on campus; I think they are the largest group on campus) and my voice would be lost in the crowd. With the then-growing anticipation for the 2008 presidential election, I saw a lot of fervor, much of it misguided, from fellow students and realized that I was better off letting others immerse themselves in politics while I carved my niche somewhere else. It was this same sentiment that shifted my intended major away from Government and towards studying human relations (Sociology and Psychology).
With the end of the election, the rise of a new level of vitriol in politics that I never believed I’d see (especially after the level of vitriol during the Bush administration) and the ensuing changes in the political landscape, I’ve removed myself from almost all political advocacy because I’ve tired of it. I’m changing my political affiliation to “Decline to state” this week.
Rather than membership in an organization with a broad scope, I prefer to be in smaller groups that, while advocating some sort of goal tied to politics, do so via the usage of research, facts, and statistical models (hence why one of my prospects upon my return Harvard is to remain as a Sociology major but focus of my studies on statistics). I grew tired of advocacy by canvassers, political operatives, paid lobbyists. My work and my vote are my advocacy.
The title of this post is taken from Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience.