Friday, February 5, 2016
Political Seasons, Past and Current
I remember the presidential election of 1972. I was in a political science class at the University of Missouri-Columbia as an 'old' freshman, just beginning my college career. It was a lecture class in a large auditorium of over 700 students that could have been painfully boring but instead, it was anything but. The young professor who presided over all of us three mornings a week was incredibly energetic and gifted at illiciting political statements from his students, generally, by poking a microphone under their nose. I'm sorry to say I can no longer recall his name but I will always remember him bounding out from behind the podium and off of the stage, microphone in hand, to charge down the center aisle while posing the latest question from the campaigns to some unsuspecting and often unprepared student. It definitely got our attention and had us thinking more seriously about the issues than a great many of our contemporaries. And for those of us who were seated in the first dozen rows, it literally had us on our toes at all times! I learned, amongst other things, that there was no better time to take a poli sci class than during an election year!
Nearly a dozen presidential campaigns have come and gone since then. I've participated in some and simply observed in a few others, like 1976, when I was living overseas, and the two candidates were both gents I'd never heard of when I left the country in 1973, i.e., Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. I've written politically, from time to time, over the years but I gave it up, partly because my family, from my husband at his job to my grade school children, would end up taking flak for what I wrote. If you have a problem with anything I write, that's fine, but take it up with me, not my loved ones. And in short order, I lost my freelance writing job because my politics didn't jive with the latest newspaper editor. (I did manage to last through five different editors in my time there, however, approximately one a year.)
Sad to say, the timbre of the races has not improved over the decades. And this year is worse than so many others, marked by accusations, recriminations, and hysterical and deliberate falsehoods.
One would think with the rapid availability of information and a video camera on every corner (let alone in everyone's pocket, aka a cell phone), candidates would think twice before spinning tales that can be easily debunked but there seems to be no end to the chutzpa of some.
Still, I find myself wondering...how is it that we have finally realized that bullying and bullies are a serious enough threat that we are establishing anti-bullying programs in most of our schools, and yet, several of those leading the race for nation's top office meet the definition criteria of a school yard bully? If we don't want our kids 'beat up' physically, emotionally or even electronically by bullies anymore, why would we want to elect one as President of the United States of America?