I initially intended to write this as part of my “other projects” page. When I noticed how long it was getting, however, I realized (to my astonishment) that I was actually writing a blog entry.
I have decided to stop doing politics outside of work. Though that decision may be a big surprise to some people, it’s what I need to do now, and maybe permanently.
I have been a delegate to the California Democratic Party since January 2005. I ran for election to the California State Democratic Central Committee because I was involved in Democracy for America, the group that grew from the Dean campaign for president, and I was excited to work to make the Democratic Party more progressive from within.
My current intention, though, is to fulfill my one formal commitment (another year and a half in my second term as a delegate) and step aside for someone else who is less ambivalent about politics and more willing to spend a lot of time organizing. I will soon no longer be vice-chair of the 16th AD Democrats. And, now that I mention it, is there really any good reason to remain a delegate?
The three main problems with my continuing involvement in politics on a volunteer basis are these:
I am exposed to politics a great deal of the time at work, and I need some balance in my life. I am overwhelmed by the inordinate amount of politics that surrounds me. I just don’t have it in me to spend a bunch of free time working to improve our system of government and politics—even though in many ways I believe it’s one of the most important things I could do—after spending 40 hours a week on roughly the same topic.
Honestly, I’m deeply ambivalent about politics. As long as I can remember, I have felt a great sense of responsibility and duty to do what I can to make society a better place. There’s a part of me that really enjoys the “who gets what, when, and how” aspect of politics, and the minutiae, and the analysis, and the social aspect. However, there are many other activities I’m more wholeheartedly into, such as playing guitar, playing baseball, making web sites, and so on, that I’ve decided need to be a larger part of my life.
The simple fact is that many things about politics repel me. I genuinely like most of the people I’ve met through my involvement in politics in the Bay Area. They are not the problem, and I’ll be sad to spend less time with them. But it seems very obvious to me that there is a huge divide between our elected officials and the people who elect them. There’s a lot more I could say about that topic, but let’s let this suffice for now: I don’t want to build my life around such an easily corruptible system, in which the most ruthless people are often the most motivated and the most successful. Yes, I know that I should work to make the system itself less corruptible. But I just don’t have the capacity to do it directly right now.
I have a lot of more basic and immediate things I need to work on before I try to affect the world outside myself. I am not in the best shape I have ever been in, especially physically. I have to spend time becoming a healthy person with healthy habits. The simple fact is that I have tried to do too much and have been ignoring my health for far too long. I just can’t do that. And I need to develop myself as a creative person and a whole person.
I am already starting the adjustment, and I know I’m going to be happier. It’s not easy, but it’s what I need to do right now.