Been neck deep in prospectus writing (and traveling, and holidays, etc.) for the last several weeks, but I’m going to be making a concerted effort to continually update this blog in the New Year. Seriously this time.
Anyway, people always look at me kind of funny when I tell people that I don’t watch the State of the Union (or the primary debates, etc.). “But you’re a political scientist,” they cry. Yes, but I don’t study rhetoric or the Presidency. I study policymaking but at the subnational level. Agenda setting really isn’t my thing. I already know what special guests are going to be there. Honestly, there’s not a lot the President could say that would affect my research or even provide me good quotes about immigration, etc. for my work.
Although, to be fair, there was a (brief) section in last night’s SOTU about comprehensive immigration reform, but I found the quote on my Google Reader, so no need to sit through the whole thing to get that tidbit.
As for being a well-rounded citizen, I already know who I’m voting for. Or, more correctly, I have a solid decision-making model of voting for myself and the probability of it changing is so ridiculously small as to be non-existent. Unless the two parties suddenly traded all their positions, my vote wouldn’t change. And, since the emergence of a truly competitive third party is spittin’ distance from impossible, there’s really no need to update said decision model.
Honestly, I guess it is kind of unusual. Even as a political scientist, I probably consume far less political news, and certainly far less campaign news, than a similarly politically sophisticated person might. I’m interested in issues. I was fascinated by the SOPA/PIPA thing recently (and actually contacted my Representatives for the first time in a while), but I’m just not all that interested in the theatre of politics. Or, at least I’m not interested in the aspects of politics that are typically reported on (polls, day-to-day tactics and “gaffs”, scandal reporting, etc). I think the Monkey Cage, particularly John Sides, has done an excellent job of pulling out the theoretically relevant aspects of the campaign as time has gone on, so I’ve kept up in that way.
But honestly, even from the standpoint of a citizen/voter, most of it is just not that interesting. I’m not going to change my vote, I’m not going to abstain from voting, and so, from both a research and voting angle, this primary season is fairly meaningless to me and the SOTU isn’t all that compelling either.
Still would have made my community college students watch it for credit though.