I had a somewhat interesting experience last night... One of the things I do when I can't sleep is go down to the local Steak-n-Shake restaurant, grab a table in the back, order a milkshake and something to eat (in this case, a taco salad) and read until I start becoming tired enough to fall asleep.
Last night was one of those nights. And, being a Friday evening, the place was pretty full of high school and college kids, talking, laughing, and basically enjoying their youth. Which meant it was pretty loud, so rather than taking my usual table next to the front door, I took a table all the way in the back, where it was quiet.
One of the times the waitress came by to check on me, she saw the book I was reading, Ron Paul's "The Revolution: A Manifesto".
It's an excellent book- it explains in plain terms how a lot of things involving the Federal Government and the Federal Reserve really work, without sounding like yet another "conspiracy theory" book- it simply lays out the facts without trying to sound overly alarmist about it (even though, in my mind, this stuff needs to be shouted from the rooftops and taught to children in high school- the bankers have been working for centuries on a plan to own the entire world, one piece at a time, by foreclosing it out from under everybody else, and America's current economic troubles are part of that plan.)
The waitress saw the title "The Revolution", and asked if it was a history book about the Revolutionary War... I picked up the jacket from the table (I usually remove them while reading hard-cover books, so they stay nice-looking) and told her that the author was running for President, and that the media was refusing to cover him, because the "powers that be" don't like what he stands for. However, before I could get any further than the phrase "media won't cover him", she said "Oh yeah, I heard about this guy- I like what he's saying, it's too bad he can't win."
She had other tables to check on, and the place never did slow down (I left just before 2am, when alcohol sales end in Orange County and all the drunks come out to the restaurants) so I didn't get to finish the conversation.
This morning, I was thinking back to what had happened, and all I could think was... "We the sheeple."
If you know me, you have probably heard me used this term before, or you may have heard others use it... Obviously it's a combination of "sheep" and "people". It refers to people who blindly follow along with the flock, instead of thinking for themselves. The exchange with my waitress from last night illustrates this point perfectly.
When she said "it's too bad he can't win", I wanted to ask her "Why not?", just to see what she said. If she knows what Ron Paul stands for and agrees with it, then why doesn't SHE plan to vote for him? Just because she doesn't see millions of other people on TV talking about him? Just because she may not know anybody else who plans to vote for him, or knows what he stands for?
Think about something- how often do you talk politics with your family, friends, co-workers, or with random people you meet during the day? There are some people out there who talk politics all day long, which might be just a bit much... but most of the people don't, or won't, talk politics at all. Why is that, I wonder?
I think it eventually comes down to one or more of these reasons:
People may not know WHAT they stand for, beyond a few vague terms like "freedom" or "end the war" or "Support the Troops". Don't get me wrong, I support the troops, probably more than most- my brother is in the middle of his third tour in Iraq as I write these words. But that's not the ONLY thing I believe in.
The point is that if you were to ask me for a list of specific items I believe in, I can give you one. One of the top items, for example, is "I believe in the Constitution of the united States of America." I swore an oath to support and defend it when I joined the Army, and even though I'm not in the Army anymore, I still believe in what I swore back in May 1988. I truly believe that the form of government described in that document is the best form of government yet created by man; I only wish I lived in a country whose government followed those rules. (Read the tenth amendment sometime, if you don't understand what I mean.)
The point is this- for many people, if I were to ask them what they believe in, they wouldn't be able to give any real answers, because they've don't know.
I think of these people as "stupid." If you're not going to take the time to think about what you believe in, then please don't vote. Your random guesses are messing things up for those of us who DO care enough to know what we believe in, and vote accordingly.
People like to be on "the winning team", so they wait until the last second before making up their mind, and then choose whoever they think has the best chance of winning, so that when it's all over with, they have a better chance of saying "My guy won."
These are the people I refer to as "Sheeple." If you can't or won't think for yourselves, then please don't vote. The only thing you're doing is skewing the numbers in favor of whoever the Media™ has decided they want to win.
People tend to avoid conflict. If they start "talking politics" there's a chance the person they're talking to won't agree with them, so it becomes a disagreement, and may possibly become a real argument, or maybe even a fight- so it's safer to just avoid talking about politics at all- unless you already know that the other guy is going to agree with you, but if that's the case, why even have the conversation?
This one I can at least understand, because, to a point, I'm guilty of it myself. I don't think it's right for me to try to force my views on anybody else, any more than I think it's right for them to try and force their views on me. However, there is a difference between telling people what you think and why, and trying to force them to believe the same things you do. I've come to realize that other people DO believe different things, and I figure as long as they have thought it out and have good reasons for believing what they do, then their ideas are just as valid as my own, and I respect them for having those ideas, for being able to explain them, and for not being afraid to explain them to me.
Basically, a disagreement doesn't have to be a conflict, if both parties are mature enough to not turn it into one.
Most of my own friends are other "computer geeks" and ham radio operators- people who tend to be more intelligent, more outspoken, and more likely to have Libertarian-leaning politics than the average American. We don't spend all day every day talking politics, but we do talk about it. We don't always agree, but we're all able to explain why we believe what we do, and as a result we respect each other, even if we don't agree about certain things.
But back to my waitress from last night. Her statement about Ron Paul, "it's too bad he can't win", leads me to believe she may be a "sheeple", blindly believing whatever Fox News and CNN tell her to believe, instead of finding out what's really going on and then making an informed decision about what she believes for herself. This woman, IF she votes, will probably vote for whoever she thinks is going to win, rather than voting for who she thinks will do the best job. She's selling herself short, and gaining... what? The luxury of not having to think about politics?
Or even better, some small measure of comfort in knowing that the person she voted for ended up winning? Is that REALLY more important than having somebody in office who's going to fight for what YOU believe is important? Or do you truly not know what you believe in, and "my guy won" is just as important as anything else?
Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream...