Every election year makes me thankful I don’t have cable television in my home or frequently listen to the radio. If I did, the contraptions likely wouldn’t survive the year, suffering massive blunt force trauma as punishment for failing to filter out the vile spew we call “politics”.
But it’s managed to trickle its way into my otherwise calm and content household. Hulu now includes a pro-Obama ad during its shows, and NBC shares the same ad when Survivor is on our little magic laptop box. Thankfully it’s not a negative ad — which would have probably led to the demise of my wife’s laptop — but it’s definitely not something I want to see. Ever.
It’s made me wonder how and why politics has become so pervasive in our society, and why it has become so filthy and violent. Then I realized — football and hockey are becoming so bogged down with extensive rules that they no longer give people the thrills they crave.
And politicians seem to like it. Instead of encouraging the public to formulate their own thoughts and do their own research, they hand out negative advertisements like Christmas gifts. Only these gifts aren’t filled with chocolate and happiness; they’re brimming with vitriol and hatred and empty “facts”.Politics is America’s new bloodsport, social media is the new Coliseum, and the average American is the new Coliseum spectator. Every gaffe, insult, misstep, and blunder our political leaders make is met with unforgiving waves of criticism that threaten their careers, their families, and even their namesake.
We may even be witnessing the most politically negative era today. According to NPR, the number of negative ads has risen — and continued to rise — since 1980. The linked article only talks about Republicans, because NPR doesn’t believe Democrats are capable of saying nasty things, but you get the point. Reagan and Bush, Jr. didn’t use any negative ads in their campaigns, and it doesn’t matter who started the problems and filled the political cesspool because now we’re all swimming in it.
And what kills me is that Americans are enjoying it. They love seeing families of politicians put on the spotlight. They love seeing skeletons pop out of closets. They love Herman Cain’s sexual exploits. Obama said something to a Russian leader that referred to the election? Crucify him! Santorum said something about Romney that may or may not have been cruel? Crucify him, too! (Although one can hardly feel bad for Santorum — this man is a whirlwind of madness.)
In the end, none of these candidates from either party is a good role model. None can bring the U.S. back to its Constitutional roots (except maybe Ron Paul, but let’s face the facts here — he’s not going to make it).
The pendulum of the perpetually enraged masses swings so quickly from one end to the other that I’m beginning to forget what we’re even arguing about. I guess that’s the point — none of these candidates are qualified for the Presidency, so they spend their time creating diversions and attacking everybody and their moms so the American people will gobble up the bloodsport like Romans in the 1st Century.
And we love it! We just can’t get enough of it! I guess every society needs something to justify their unnecessary hatred for other people. South Americans have their soccer, Arabs have their religion, and we have our politics.