I hate Politics.
Before the politically overactive and civically empowered take up arms against me, let me explain: I have little issue with what the Merriam-Webster defines as “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.”
My distaste lies with Politics, not politics. While, alphabetically, the two words are identical, in meaning they bear an important difference. The latter is a seemingly integral part of our modern governmental system. The former is spoken about in whispers through grimaced lips and gritted teeth.
In the equestrian industry, capital-P Politics is the word used to describe unfair judging — most commonly when it is suspected that a supposedly impartial competition judge has been bought off by a horse trainer with enough clients to afford the act and enough standing in the industry to be able to get away with it. In other words, it is the term used to encompass the unearned advantages gifted only to those with money and power.
In the equine world, Politics is despised not simply because it is unfair, but because it is internal sabotage to an already fragile industry. I used to think this definition did not extend beyond the equestrian arena, but as our current political race progresses, it occurs to me that I might have been wrong.
A 2015 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that only approximately 19 percent of Americans trust the federal government always or most of the time, down from 77 percent in 1958. A similar study conducted by Gallup found that 81 percent trust the government only some of the time or never, up from only 39 percent in 2002. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center study found that 74 percent of Americans believe the majority of elected officials are considering their own interests ahead of their country’s.
According to these polls, fewer people trust the government today than at any previous moment in our relatively short history. In our modern-day political system, where candidates build themselves up by tearing each other down and seem to care more about themselves than the issues at stake, it does not seem improbable that the rest of America already knows what I am only just now realizing: Our definition of politics — the governmental system we use to elect officials to run our country — is degrading into Politics—a power struggle in which only the advantaged compete and win, while those with unknown names or empty bank accounts receive only a nominal opportunity.
I would like to think that our political system still fits only the definition found in the dictionary — but what if I’m wrong?
As I professed earlier, I hate Politics. In the equestrian industry, it leads to short-term, individual triumph but long-term, universal sabotage, and I fear the day that national politics as defined by the dictionary evolves into Politics as it is known in the equestrian world: a loaded gun aimed at our own head.
Karyn Simpson is a junior journalism and environmental studies major from Fair Oaks Ranch. She is the copy editor for the Lariat.