Monday, February 18, 2013

At War With Apathy (Monday LINKS)

Last week, I participated in a Blogging Panel put on by the Columbia Democratic Club with Steve Charing and Bill Woodcock.  It was a great opportunity to reflect on what it is we hobbyist bloggers offer and why we exist.  Regardless of the context, that is one question I hear often from people first learning that I have a blog.  "What made you do that?"

One thing Bill Woodcock said really stuck out for me.  To paraphrase, he told the audience that bloggers are pushing back against the tide of apathy.  With less coverage, and lower profile issues, local government can be, and often is, dismissed as irrelevant.  This is despite the fact that we are most likely to come into contact with our local government on a more frequent basis and its actions will have a much more profound effect on our lives than whatever the President may do.  By blogging about an issue, and (maybe) making it interesting, we offer purchase for those who may otherwise let the issue pass without consideration.

I think about apathy at least once a week, normally in the context of "tilting against windmills".  As Elie Wiesel is quoted as saying (before The Lumineers stole it): "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."  There are those who hate this community.  They hate Howard County.  They hate Columbia.  They hate what it is and what it aspires to be.  But for a good number of these folks, they are anything but apathetic.  They know each member of the County Council.  They know the issues.  They know how they want things to change.  They read this blog.  They may hate me.

But as Wiesel indicated, they are not the opposite of those who love this place, but rather just a different version of the same impassioned soul.  The real danger is found in those who don't care.

And what is the danger of apathy?  What's the harm?  The audience is smaller?  So what? 

We've seen "so what" on any number of stages - power is transferred from "the people" to "the loud".  This isn't just a matter of getting eyeballs and ears.  It is fundamental to who decides what.  This local government, and nonprofit homeowners/community association, that has tremendous effects on your quality of life can be bent to the will of "the loud" easily and without coup.  We wonder why certain elements of our community are so unreasonable and unamenable to compromise, but it is because they have won small battles, in the absence of counter-points, without having to.  Why change methods mid-stream?

Apathy is an involuntary power transfer.  Your decision not to be heard is not an unflipped switch, but rather a concrete abdication of your voice to someone else.  That's not to say you should start racking up babysitting bills and miss bedtime stories.  It means you need to think more creatively about making yourself heard.  You're reading this, aren't you?  You care, don't you?

At war with apathy: the opposite of love.


I really enjoyed this long-piece in the New York Times about 21st Century technology and the Republican Party.  Particularly this: "Romney’s senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may well be remembered by historians, as one House Republican senior staff member put it to me, 'as the last guy to run a presidential campaign who never tweeted.'"  The article goes on to note that while techno-guru's on the left may be inspired to put their talents back into "the cause", those on the right may be more inclined to seek private benefit in the corporate sphere.  The contra to that position is that the real deficiency can be found with a "crust" of old-timers at the top of the party who still think TV ads and direct mail are the way to win an election.  Seeing the areas where the GOP is having most of its success, that philosophy makes sense.  It just may put a National Election outside of their reach for the forseeable future.

Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, M.D., has unintentionally found himself as the new spokesperson for the right after making remarks at a National Prayer breakfast about self-reliance.  I wonder how long this will last.  Dr. Carson should not be expected to hold the party line on all things, particularly as they may relate to "science", and may find himself on the outs within the month.

The roll-out of Obamacare has hit a few speed-bumps as the high risk pools are filling up faster than anticipated.  I don't know about you all, but I found the idea of legions of uninsured chronically ill people to be heart-breaking.  Plan administrators seem to making prudent adjustments in the face of this rush, but while many will use this as a point of criticism, I think it also shows just how necessary health care reform was to the most vulnerable among us.

Featured Blog Post of the Day: WB picks up on some big news just under the radar of our local journo's -- Howard County EDA Chief Laura Neuman has thrown her hat in for the Anne Arundel County Executive post.  This story has all sorts of interesting tails, such as the possibility of Ms. Neuman being a high-profile Republican in the midst of a "Governor Ulman" administration.  Early comments I've solicited from those in the loop have suggested that Ms. Neuman is a "consensus pick", but it would be very surprising to see the AA Republican Central Committee pull from a prominent Democrat's administration.

That's all for today.  Have a great Monday reflecting on the great Presidents of this Country.  Don't forget William Henry Harrison.