Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

This Election, We Have Seen The Enemy -- And It is Us

Author: Perry Waag
Created: 06 May, 2016
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

Just about everyone these days seems to be either overcome with fear or anger in this election cycle, and for good reasons. It might not be pretty, but that's one of the major benefits of having elections every few years...it helps to air out our republic and allows for a re-examination of where we stand as a nation, a repudiation of things we don't like, and a re-affirmation of things we do like.

As a middle of the road independent that is just as underwhelmed as the rest of America with the options we have to choose from come November, let me just say that I get it.

I get the reasons why people don't like the current selection of candidates. I get why many Americans, myself included, are turned off by the media constantly trying to make a spectacle out of the process and the candidates in the pursuit of ratings, instead of trying to help foment a more in-depth and serious national debate about the issues.

But while I get all of that, it's as far as I go. I simply refuse to get dragged down into the mud wrestling. I'm not interested in name calling, mockery, or who can scare us more about the other candidate.

Now that it is looking more and more likely that Clinton and Trump will be the nominees of their respective parties, it is our job as the citizens of this wonderful nation to do everything we can to insist that there be a real, in-depth, constructive, and elevated debate about the actual issues that affect the daily lives of every day Americans -- like jobs, education, crime, rebuilding infrastructure, retirement, health care, and the national debt & deficit.

I know the odds of getting that are slim to none, but to me false hope is better than no hope at all.

“We the people” must not take the easy way out and accept the status quo of the media spectacle and personality politics. Don’t watch anything that isn’t a substantive discussion of actual issues. Don’t like or share negative posts and comments on social media regardless of whether you think they are accurate or not. Don’t give into hate and demagoguery from either side.

If our leaders and prospective leaders cannot show the proper way to behave as citizens, then it is up to us to show the way, by appealing to the better angels of both our own natures and of each other. We all need to get back to the golden rules of "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" and "treat others the way we ourselves want to be treated".  We would do well to focus more on promoting what we love than bashing what we hate.

When Princess Diana died, many blamed the aggressive predatory nature of the paparazzi and the tabloid media, and for a long time their sales took a hit as people voted with their feet. We need to do the same (and stick to it) with how our elections are covered.

If people stop watching and following media of all types that are trafficking in and pandering to a horse race mentality and “superficial” journalism in an attempt to keep their ratings and following, then guess what, the powers that be will take notice and adjust accordingly.

In the movie Gladiator, two Roman Senators are discussing their new Emperor and one remarks that fear and wonder are a powerful combination. The other replies with “Do you really think the people will be seduced by that?” The first replies, “He knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. He’ll conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted.

We must not allow ourselves to be distracted and diverted by sensationalistic journalism, sound bites, and personal attacks. We are better than that!

Demand a substantive debate. We the People deserve nothing less. But if we don't get it, we have only ourselves to blame, not the candidates, and not the media.