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Chris Metcalf

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State of the Union

When I started this blog, it had heavy political leanings. I used it as a place to speak my mind about politics and current events, because, at the time, I loved politics.

But since then I’ve decided I just can’t handle it anymore. I can’t watch network news, read an opinion column, or even enter a simple political debate with a friend without wanting to scream, cry, or throw up. I skip over the “Politics” folder in my RSS reader, because sometimes I just can’t stand reading it.

It used to be that one of my favorite activities was to talk about politics. I grew up having long winded political debates with my father, and I loved it. My ex-girlfriend and I used to go to the local pizza joint and argue for hours over pitchers of beer, and I couldn’t have had more fun. We had nothing in common politically, and that was exactly why it was so enjoyable. I could go on for hours and hours about politics and never tire of it. I had strong opinions and I loved talking about them.

But now everything seems to have changed. My father, who used to share many of the same Libertarian ideals as me, has been driven further to the right, I feel, in response to the liberals’ continuing march to the left. On fundamental things I’m beginning to disagree with him. My ex-girlfriend has moved to Germany and I don’t talk to her anymore. I can’t have a political debate with a friend without fearing that it will break down into personal attacks. I once had a friend tell me that voting for Bush was a “personality flaw” and he couldn’t be seen with somebody who had. I never discussed politics with him again.

The personal has become political and politics itself has become personal. We’re no longer just people who happen to have positions and opinions, we are our positions and opinions. Politics has taken over our homes and our relationships and I’m afraid we’ll never be able to get it out again.

And in the process I’ve been driven further into my own ideals. I don’t identify with either major political party anymore. When people ask me what political party I stand with, I tell them I’m a Libertarian. And then I shut up, because to continue elaborating on my political opinions would be an invitation to personal attacks from my friends on both sides of the aisle.

I want to be able to be proud of my opinions again. I want to be able to stand tall and fight for them without being afraid that I will be alienated for them. I want politics to be fun again.

So I didn’t watch the State of the Union tonight. Because the only thing that would make me more frustrated than the State of the Union itself would be watching the rebuttal after it.