Posts Tagged ‘2010 election’

The elections are finally over.  I am joined by millions of people who are grateful to now be bombarded with incessant holiday advertising, replacing incessant political advertising that got nastier and more poisonous as the elections approached.  The spin doctors have been out on both sides trumpeting victory, and, near as I can tell, “all are punish’d”, as Shakespeare wrote.

It was the French politican/philosopher Alexis deToqueville who proclaimed that we get the government we deserve.  The observation suggests to me that our biggest disconnect with deToqueville’s thesis comes in the puffed-up statements, made by politicians and other chest-thumpers, that America is the greatest country on earth.  Really?  Is that why we run attack advertising, to sling mud on the opposition while proclaiming ourselves to be great and noble?  And is that why we — great nation that we say we are — choose to get our news from the what’s passed along on the web, without scrutiny for the source, and from pundits like (ABC, shame on you) Andrew Breitbart?  For that matter, is it a problem for our government that even congressional candidates don’t know what the Bill of Rights is about?  That, according to a poll conducted a couple of years ago, twenty percent of elected officials thought that the electoral college was established to supervise the first televised presidential debate?

This is downright embarrassing.  A candidate in New Hampshire for the just-concluded election ran ads suggesting that the President of the United States is a mass murderer.  Another candidate running for Congress in Massachusetts, a former policeman whose actions were decried by his former captain, gave the opposition a good run for the money, with people declaring that they didn’t really care what the man had done, they just wanted change.  Sarah Palin and her crew of “Mama Grizzlies” took some victories, and now she’s got us quaking in our boots by declaring that she “can see 2012” from her house.

Well, I’d like some change, too.  I would like an end to the economic downturn that made me one of those highly educated professionals who has been looking for her next rewarding full time position for way too long.  I’d like to know that my family, and those of other kids who are now in high school, might actually be able to support their children’s higher education without having the child, or the parents, face financial ruin.  And I’d like to know that broadcasters and reporters can be relied on to report the news, rather than to stir up or terrify the electorate, as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert tried to emphasize last weekend.  Simple things, really.

If we do not expect better of ourselves we have no right, it seems to me, to try and hold others up to a higher standard.  It starts at home.  Screwing your neighbor so that you can make out a little better won’t cut it.

I recall professor William Jones, in a lecture on how to combat racism, holding up his favorite prop, a rubber chicken.  He pointed out that the chicken had no rights – it got killed and cooked for others to eat.  And that if we want greater equity, ultimately we have to be willing to stop eating chicken so that it has some rights, too.  I remember laughing as Dr. Jones made his point, but I also got it.  And more and more, I feel like we’ve been living in the middle of a giant food fight where there are too many unruly children at the table and not enough grub to go around.  Everyone’s got their forks in the air and if your hand happens to get in the way at the wrong time — too bad.

Scarcity, not generosity, is in every breath we take, and it’s not a pretty smell.  As long as we resort to blame and shame and the mean tactics we’ve had a good helping of in the just-concluded election, I continue to fear for a country that is proving itself not great, but small and mean-spirited.

The small silver lining of this election may be that now the House is controlled by one party and the Senate by another.  It will be much harder for either party to sling mud, blaming the other group, because the truth is, they both have to step up and do their part for the country to get anywhere.

I remain skeptical.  We get what we deserve.  Can our elected leaders stop to think, for a moment, about what that really means in terms of their behavior –one to another, in terms of morals and ethics — so that the net effect is that of running the country into the ground?  Or are we so caught up in the frenzied fight that we’ll continue to stick a fork in the hand — or a knife in the back — of anyone who gets in our collective way?


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