Obama is speaking outside my office window, so why did I stay home?

Right now, President Obama is speaking on the College of Fine Arts lawn at Carnegie Mellon University, right outside my office window. Apparently, “the line for President Obama’s visit to CMU goes from Purnell to Gesling Stadium”. That’s some line.

Yesterday at work I saw a lot of setup going on out on the lawn:

CFA lawn being set up for Obama

Anyway, today I stayed at home. Why did I stay at home when I could have picked up a free ticket yesterday for this event? (Below is a photo of someone else’s ticket since I did not get one.)

Ticket for Obama event at CMU

It’s not about Obama

First, I want to make it clear that this is not about Obama. It is not about whether I like or hate him, or whether I will vote for or against him this fall. If it were Mitt Romney, I would not be attending.

It’s about politics

I don’t like politics, but I do vote. In fact, just in the last couple of years, I even do what I have to do in order to vote in closed primaries. I find it extremely distasteful to have to register for some official party in order to vote in primaries, but I did it.

At various points in my life, I have either been apathetic, cynical, or idealistic about politics. Right now, I would say I am simply realistic and take a rational approach, devoid of all emotion. I minimize following of political news or getting into heated arguments. I go out twice a year to vote.

Nothing Obama is saying right now or not saying would likely affect my vote, so from a rational point of view, there is nothing to be gained from wasting valuable time (and suffering in the summer heat outside) just to hear him on his campaign tour. Furthermore, if he really is saying anything truly interesting, I’m sure I’ll get the executive summary from someone and if I really wanted to, I could get a transcript too, probably.

In a world of too much pointless information, I don’t need political speeches to use up my brain cells.

It’s especially about presidents

I’m particularly uninterested in following presidential politics, because the cult of the presidency has overwhelmed American politics. The president gets credit or blame for everything. People forget that the US was founded with three branches of government, and the executive is just one of those three. Congress and the Supreme Court are critical. In fact, just recently we saw how important the Supreme Court is, when the Roberts Supreme Court surprisingly upheld Obamacare.

At a time when monarchy was still the norm, George Washington chose not to become a king. We’re not supposed to have kings in this country. Yet people really do long for king-like figures, whether as saviors or villains. This longing is part of human nature, unfortunately. I’m doing my part to choose to buck human nature and ignore presidents.

I’d be more likely to attend a speech by a prospective candidate for Mayor of Pittsburgh than to attend speeches by any future presidents or presidential candidates.


Obama’s talking, and I stayed at home to get stuff done.

comments powered by Disqus