The Rated R ElectionOctober 20, 2008
Just some quick thoughts on why I think this election cycle has become so contemptuous.
If this election ever gets made into a truthful movie, it could never receive a PG-13 rating. There’s too much vitriol, too much hate, and all together too many allegations of the worst sort. I remember as a child being able to watch every second of news, and read every article about the presidential elections. If I were that same child today, I would hope my parents would shield me from this.
Remember Carter-Reagan, or Mondale-Bush? Campaigns that made some silly points, and attacked each other for sure, but nothing like calling your opponent a terrorist or mischaracterizing their ancestry and religion. That just wasn’t done. Sure, some fanatics deep in their own ideology no doubt cast aspersions upon anyone they disagreed with, but the technology of the day kept it confined from public mass consumption. Today, The political feeding trough of the country is filled with this offal, unfit for safe consumption, yet cheaper than actual commentary.
I’m guilty of it. I realize that. I push the hard edges, and make no bones about it. Maybe I’m stuck in a physics equation dealing with the conservation of energy, the muck gets thrown at my side, and I have an equal and opposite reaction (losing a little of the muck lost as heat energy in the process). I’m not a political science professor concerned with riding the fine line between informing and balancing–I’m a blogger taking advantage of the technology and the voice given to me.
Am I making a plea for this all to stop, for us to refocus our attentions toward a common good? I don’t know. I’m not going to let up on my posts reporting the disgustingness appearing from the other side, just as I’m not going stop being inspired and hopeful that after this election is put in the books, we have a chance to redefine ourselves to the world community and ourselves. I think many of us are this way. We have these two sides to our political reality. On one, we have a vision of perfection being created from our deeply held political beliefs, and on the other, we see the horridness, the antithesis of our vision being fought for from our political opponents.
What the main concern of both sides seems to be is our personal freedom. The ability to go through our lives unharassed by the intervention of forces beyond our control. The noble vision of each man and woman living as they see fit, and having a piece of the happiness we all dream of. I think it may be this simple.
When the ‘other side’ is viewed, we see the extreme negative consequence of their vision, the ultimate ends of a misguided means. The conservatives see government programs as the enemy, and corporate involvement in these very same activities as the ultimate good. The liberal element sees corporate involvement in some areas as profiteering on the fundamental necessities of life, when a communal good could be provided at a cheaper cost by pooling our resources. Neither side wants to be burdened with understanding the honest benefits that the other view could provide, just as we do not want to consider our own views as misguided.
It’s not that both sides are right. But it’s not that one side may be right, while the other is wrong. The world isn’t so simple. There is no black and white world where this is so. The world is a shade of grays. Now, I do not, and can not say that a combination of the two sides ideas would be better than the alternatives, that is also a foolish path that leads to the solution of problems that do not exist, and problems arising from solutions that are not needed. It is quite possible that either side is right for a given set of circumstances.
The election has turned into an exposé of this problem of black and white rationalizing of a gray world. Our hackles are raised at every turn, both by our vision of a terrible outcome, and the reactions to reactions to reactions of reactions. The endless froth of contempt is spilling over from hearts, and into our souls. Hatred is being born where misunderstanding once resided, and misunderstanding is beginning to creep into our own political visions.
Of course Senator Obama isn’t a Muslim, just as he’s not a socialist, a terrorist sympathizer, or a secret agent sent by a foreign government or group. These fearful indictments aren’t born from actual events or truths, they are created in the fearful reaction to a perceived worst case scenario. Maybe it can’t be helped, this attempt to justify our visions of doom, but at least we can understand it. It isn’t evil that resides in the souls of those that spread this fear mongering, it is the vision of evil that does it.
Defenses are up now. Soothing the fearful soul can only come with time, just as the mental trauma from a car crash gently fades from consciousness and finds it’s place somewhere calmer, and more reflective. I can no more rationally explain to a person spewing forth hysterical denouncements of Senator Obama’s character than I could magically heal a survivor of a horrible accident. It will take time for these people to heal themselves, and we can only hope that the scars also fade.