Political footballs are nothing new. So long as there have been disagreeing parties there have been issued used solely to portray and trap your opponent into an electorally fatal opinion. The perfect football must be highly emotionally provocative, and able to either portray one’s opponent as possessing or outright trick them into possessing an electorally fatal position. Wars and issues of government funding or citizens’ rights are great examples. But while it’s easy to admonish our partisan leaders for engaging in this practice, it’s important to remember this method wasn’t created in a vacuum. Our political leadership simply discovered most Americans would rather feel like they’re involved in politics instead of actually engaging in it. After all, it’s always easier to talk about something needing to get done than it is to get up and do it. The problem with applying this attitude to your politics is these issues aren’t that pile of laundry in your room or the treadmill gathering dust. They have real world implications affecting many more people than just yourself. Take the latest issue our parties have been lobbing at one another like cannon fodder. While both sides race to blow the biggest plumes of smoke up our asses about who cares more, who’s doing the most, and whose fault it is, children sit in detainment apart from the families who illegally entered the country with them. It’s not enough to think of the children, or to tweet about the children, or, in my case, to sanctimoniously blog about who/what is to blame.
Contrary to what it seems like everyone on social media believes, there’s not a 1 tweet = 1 child reunited policy. Scoreboarding your political other doesn’t do a thing for getting these kids back with their families. Neither does captioning a picture of one of these children with a testimonial about how much more connected you are to these families than anyone else because “My eight year old Apple Cider has literally never left my side, I couldn’t imagine the anguish she’d feel if she was in this position,” (I’m looking at you, Chrissy Tiegen). It does however allow you to feel productive, like you’ve contributed to the effort, you’ve supported the movement and done your fair part. But if any of us truly care beyond crafting a post for our respective social media echo chambers it’s time to admit what we’re doing isn’t doing shit, it’s just virtual grandstanding designed to placate our conscious like an online Salvation Army kettle. It’s time to accept that this issue is going to require discussion with people who don’t share your opinions. It’s also time to entertain the possibility the best solution doesn’t include everything you’d like it to. If any of us really care as much as the number of tweets we post claim, then it’s time get off Twitter and get to work. Call your elected officials, call your partisan leadership, find someone who disagrees with you and talk to them.
No matter what your political affiliation insists, the other side isn’t a bunch of ravenous soulless lunatics hellbent on destroying the country. They’re people, and, more importantly, they’re who you’re going to have to work with to make sure not only do these children get reunited with their families, but that we finally stop treating social issues as cannon fodder for us to selfishly satiate the most innate of our human nature.