There comes a time when we all face something more difficult than we ever have before in our lives. Quite often that is accompanied by an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom; a soul crushing feeling of impossibility.
A turning point in belief and ideology is hard to deal with; something that I have faced before- a frankly don’t care to experience again.
Yet, here I am, staring down a road in front of me that seems to be crumbling.
We all need a belief system. We need something that gives rationale to our the way we form our thoughts and live our lives. For many people that role is filled by religion; after all that is basically why humans created it.
Religion gives an understandable answer to the questions that we can’t answer with science yet.
Why do evil people exist, what happens after we die and why are we really here? Those are just the easy ones that any person can pull out off the top of their head.
Several years ago I decided that religion wasn’t the lens that I wanted to use in my life; and I began the search for a replacement belief. After all, what good is any personal belief if you can’t explain why you find the justification for it.
For quite some time I replaced my religious dogma with a political one. Political science became my first major and every academic decision I made after that followed in the same vein.
Political discussion was a drug for me; I would push back other obligations in order to talk with my classmates in the halls after lecture. We talked about everything from gun control to the role of the judiciary.
As of late though, that has begun to change. The more I get involved with politics the more I hate it, the more it seems to crush my idealistic soul.
The previous election year was difficult for a lot of people and interesting for everyone. For those that found it difficult, I empathize, because I did too.
Being a political science student though gave an interesting alternative avenue to view the election through.
It is one thing to watch presidential debates and listen to campaign speeches and be mad about what outcomes they produce. It is an entirely different one when you are simultaneously watching everything and learning about what the theories of politics say should happen.
Any introductory political science course is sure to grandstand about how it is a science for the first two lectures at the least. Professors and instructors tell you that by taking these courses you will learn how to navigate inside the politics of any workplace you should find yourself in.
By learning the theories and studying social behavior you can learn to predict how people will react to the statements and actions of figureheads, supposedly.
Watching the 2016 election was a late, eight-week crash course in reality.
I’ve always known that politics is a game played by those vying for control and power; but there were supposed to be rules. Given enough information it should be predictable.
I’ve learned that this is not the case.
The issue is that political theory is based upon models of the individual. I am by no means attempting to say that the academics who have developed these theories have not put in hard research and effort to create them; however, as far as I can tell those models never quite seem to work. Humans are simply too complicated to categorize and human nature is too varied to be defined.
So what happens when you realize that people aren’t altruistic and politics doesn’t present a feasible means to initiate grassroots change?
Normally, you get over it and carry on with life.
But what about when politics has become dogma, the justification and rationalization for your thoughts, beliefs and actions?
That’s what I’m trying to figure out…
Andrew Crighton is a senior majoring in political science and secondary education with a minor in history.