Drama. Our society thrives on it. Most of the topics covered in any form of media expression centers around the drama in either our real world lives or some sort of fantasy situation. We are addicted to the excitement that drama brings into our lives because it breaks up the monotony of the daily grind. When we are able to break away from the tedium of our jobs or family or whatever else that makes us feel stagnant, there is a small sense of adventure that fills us with anticipation as we delve into a situation that is out of the ordinary.
Real or imagined, we seek out drama. It’s in our movies and television. We watch it on YouTube or Instagram or Twitter. We cast about for it in our political discourse, reading news articles that sensationalize trivial topics in hopes of generating traffic and increasing ratings. It is no longer enough for us to have well paying jobs or a loving family or good friends. We need that fix of daily excitement that comes with a good drama.
The problem with this is that, like any chemical inducing state, when we give in to our cravings we end up hurting not only ourselves, but the people around us. We stop paying attention to the most important things in our lives because those things are just boring. Our souls crave more and more of that pulse-pounding action that a dramatic situation brings us. The adrenaline starts pumping and we become grossly engaged in whatever scenario is playing out before us. Regardless of the consequences, we fixate on the story at the expense of what is best or right.
This is one of the primary problems with our politics today. Our process of lawmaking and governing should be more boring than watching paint dry, but our need to turn small issues into life and death struggles has made politicians into rock stars. There are politicians whose names are more in the household than some of the highest grossing media personalities. The world stage has been dominated by our politics for so long that other countries are more interested in United States politics than their own, primarily because they find it so entertaining.
One of the problems is that rather than following the spirit of the founding fathers, we have turned our government into a quasi-dictatorship that follows the pattern of the rulers of old. Our President, for example, is meant to be primarily three things: our diplomat to the world, the commander of our military, and the administrator of our laws. Unfortunately, we put all of our hopes and dreams on this one person to come into office and make things happen for us, assuming he has power that just isn’t granted to him by our form of government. The President is not supposed to be powerful enough to affect change all by himself. He must work with the other two branches of government to make things happen.
Part of this problem is directly related to our need for drama. It becomes an ideological battle between the President and his opposition in Congress when one side wants to pass laws and the other simply refuses to play ball. Rather than sitting down and having a rational discussion about how to best compromise so both sides can win, we would rather watch a fight and cheer for our side. Most of our issues could be resolved if we worked together to find a solution that both sides walk away from gaining some things and losing others, but it’s just more fun to fight over it.
The sad truth is that our addiction to drama is preventing us from moving forward as a nation. Instead of wringing our politicians by the neck every time they sabotage a helpful bill by grandstanding for their own ideology, we applaud them for not giving an inch. Regardless of the benefits we might attain by working together, it is more important for us to be right than to get things done.
Understand, however, that I definitely believe there are certain things that must be no negotiation issues. These things definitely require a certain level of drama because they aren’t open to discussion. Anything that infringes on our rights should be fought tooth and nail. But how many minor issues do we ignore because we want to lump them into larger issues? Our need for drama makes these small things into bigger things, and we make them as important as the critical problems. When everything is a big deal, nothing is.
We need to get to a place in our nation where we are fine with our politics being boring. Identifying the “stand your ground” issues and keeping those separate from the daily process of governing is critically important to keep things moving. We can continue to fight over things like gun control or what constitutes freedom of speech or how much welfare we need, but it’s time to stop holding other issues hostage to further the fight on these controversial topics. There is enough drama inherent in these to satisfy anyone; let’s stop adding fuel to the fire with the things we can actually get done.
How do you feel about political drama? Is it important to the political process, or does it just get in the way? Should our politicians be so much in the forefront of our daily lives? At some point, we have to decide what kind of country we want to live in. Drama is fun, but it also has the potential to be cripplingly dangerous to our way of life. Rational thought is important when dealing with the important issues of our time, and it is time to return to that way of thinking.
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