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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Who Wins?

Well, it's election day - finally. No matter who wins, there's been a lot of losers. I'm referring to the stream of negative ads from all parties. The lack of civility evidenced in many televised debates is also unfortunate. Respect and courtesy have often been abandoned. These exchanges certainly aren't good examples of discourse for our youngsters. It seems that the more outrageous the claims are, the more air time they receive, all to boost viewer ratings. Fact and fiction have been blurred, many times with intention. It's been difficult to comprehend a politician's platforms and position statements because they have been obscured by relentless attacks against his/her opponent. In addition, articulate political philosophies have been replaced by curt sound bites and catchy bumper sticker slogans. Perhaps that plays to an ever decreasing attention span we all have for politics lately. What are young audience members learning from the television coverage - whoever is loudest gets attention? whoever spends the most money is right? that facts can't get in the way of fiction? All sides share in the guilt.

It appears we are devolving into an either-or society rather than embracing the possibilities of an and-both society. You're either for us or against us! The map of our country now reflects two colors, red or blue. Partisan politics have produced gridlock, and gridlock often decreases meaningful achievements.

Beyond my personal and private interests in the outcomes of today's political races, I mourn the loss of dignity and consideration in the months and weeks leading up to election day. Long after the campaign signs are collected, after the political pundits have put away their microphones, and the millions and millions of dollars are spent (at a time of great economic stress overwhelming our nation) there will likely be a return to that gridlock. It reminds me of the old Marx Brothers (I'm not a Marxist!!) movies in which Groucho is chasing Harpo around the long dinner table. They run around the table a lot, and switch positions a lot, but in the end they're still opposite, facing each other, no closer together.

This political season has seemed like a blend of reality television shows - Lost meets Survivor. All in all, I don't believe it's been much of a teachable moment for those too young to vote. We need to think about that...

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