a desperate addiction

Political news is a disease – stay away from the news. I’ve given that advice over and over.  It does not entertain or educate or enlighten.  Unless you plan to do something about it, reading about a tragedy on the other side of the globe will only depress you.  Yet I have a confession to make.  I am addicted to presidential politics.

It started slowly in 2007. I read a column here and there.  I checked out Bill Richardson’s web site.  I drifted by  instapundit and dailykos (no, I’m not linking to them) to see what the right-and-left-wingers were saying, but just once a week.  I gave my mother (a hardcore political junkie) a hard time for her addiction to americablog.  But I was harboring a secret.  I was cruising one political website and news site after another, looking for a quick and cheap fix.  I didn’t care about the consequences, I needed THE NEWS.

Of course after months of furtively reading political news I realize it (a) didn’t even vaguely change my thoughts on who to vote for and (b) didn’t come close to educating, enlightening or even entertaining me. It’s a sad state of affairs to admit you’re addicted to something which doesn’t even really give you pleasure.  I hate the whole sordid business of presidential politics but I just can’t look away.  The personal-finance-blogosphere loves to give opinions on money, but the leadership of this country determine so much of how we save and how we spend that – in a sense – no personal finance issue should be more important than VOTING.  Disagree?  What if the next president changes the tax rate on capital gains?  That would affect your savings strategy.  What if they rescind Roth accounts’ tax-free status?  What if they decide to heavily tax gas to subsidize public transportation?  There are a million possibilities that impact our lives far more than “should I clip coupons”?

regret, shame and recovery

I am ashamed. I waste a lot of time I could be writing, or reading something fun or entertaining or educational or even just silly.  I read about McCain’s latest angry jab at Obama, or Obama’s latest platitude about “coming together.”  I spend 10 minutes thinking about voting for Nader or Barr or writing in myself and then go back to reading about the latest congressional idiocy.

I have a problem.  I need help.  I have to give up presidential politics. Nothing I hear between now and November is going to change my mind, because I already distrust and fear both candidates and the American political systems.  I will leave you with this horrible sobering thought:  I am almost 40 years old, and this is the first time since I was an eligible voter that my presidential ballot will not have the name “Bush” or “Clinton” on it… and that’s only by a narrow margin.

And just in case anyone is wondering about my political affiliation, it is simple:  anti-incumbent.  It’s the only way to go, if you ask me.