cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
One of the benefits of a long life is the ability to reflect on the changes that have occurred. One of the detriments of a long life is the ability to reflect on the changes that have occurred. Given that this is the ‘high political season’, that is the subject of my reflections.
My first experience with being actually energized and involved in politics occurred with my youthful involvement with the Barry Goldwater campaign. I recall, with sadness, the commercial showing the young girl picking flowers only to be obliterated by an atomic explosion. That, of course, was a commercial run by Goldwater’s opponent, and was, to my thinking, a major determinant in that race. I was dismayed to see Goldwater defeated. He was the most conservative candidate I had seen to that point in my young life, and that enthused me. I have been what I believe is a real conservative since my teen years, even considerably before it became more acceptable (and I know it is unacceptable to some of those who will read this). And, I confess that I favored JFK’s approach to governance; he was truly a conservative in what I’d like to think is my mold.
Every presidential election since that time has further devolved into tasteless and baseless allegations designed to simply exploit the votes of those who do not pay close attention…and that is the bulk of American voters in my estimation.
We have seen the popularity of ‘class envy’. It works because we are too susceptible to envying others’ stuff and others’ success. We do not take time to appreciate what we have been given, or have earned, as you wish to look at it, but instead are too quick to lament what someone has that we don’t have. We are subject to believing what some slick advertisement would have us believe because we don’t take the time nor make the effort to really educate ourselves.
I would probably assign the term “hate politics” to what we experience day-in and day-out in presidential campaigns today. We don’t simply dislike a candidate; too often we almost literally hate the opposing candidate. We feel our dislike for the candidate viscerally. There is nothing about the candidate that we can find to be worth appreciating.
Talk radio and television advertising have to bear some of the blame. But each of us who has permitted this change in our own life has to take responsibility for permitting that to occur to us. We do control what it is we believe and don’t believe. We do control how we respond to stimulation of both types…good and bad. We are, theoretically at least, adults who are capable of rationale decision-making, and yet too many of us have given over control to the party with which we seem most aligned.
For some of us, it is the simple equation of which person we think will give us more ‘stuff’, and class envy works exceptionally well in this environment. For some of us, it is the simple equation of which person we think will be a better leader for the country. We believe we know the answer while those opposed to us appear to simply be ignorant of which person is the best for the job. It is very easy for this interaction to devolve quickly into something we can’t really enjoy watching, and we have gotten to the lowest point I can remember in the current presidential campaign.
We have created groups that will do anything possible to paint the other candidate as darkly as can be done. We know deep down that these groups are simply surrogates although they are to have no connection with the candidate they obviously support. These groups have great freedom in what they do, how they gather money, how they act and in what they say and do.
Unfortunately, some among us are incapable, either by belief system or by lack of knowledge or a combination, of deciphering the truth because we want so badly to believe what is being said about the person we oppose.
We are the ones subjecting ourselves to what I’ve termed “hate politics” because we permit ourselves to believe everything our favorite says about the other person, even when we know better. That makes us willing participants in the devolution of modern politics.
The change needs to begin within each one of us…unless we really like what we’ve become.
Step back. Take a deep breath. Try to make informed decisions about charges and counter-charges that are leveled even more rapidly in this age of instant communication. And, maybe most importantly, we need to be honest with ourselves about what we take at face value.
Finally, hate politics is further speeded when we are envious of what others have, when we believe we are entitled to something more than we have. Fighting off hate politics is up to each one of us. If it doesn’t start with us as individuals, we’ll simply watch things political get worse and worse.
That does not bode well for the future of our country, let alone for each of us as individuals who live in this country.