To watch / read / listen to the debates, discourses, digs, documenting, and painful dispatches from campaign offices in this year’s US Presidential election is truly historic. In so many ways both the Democrats and Republicans are making history. Personalities and profiles of the candidates are unprecedented. Some of the reasons were expected – the first woman at the helm of a party in the presidential race versus the first outsider and self-funding her opponent. One a lifetime in the political arena, the other a lifetime in the boardroom. One an assumed contestant for the 2016 presidential race, the other a complete shock in participation and now pole position.
Yet there are similarities – both are deal makers, though each with profoundly different agendas, styles, and bottom lines. Both possess gravitas and grey hair in their respective areas. Both love their families, flowing in their affections and fierce in their protection. And both are in it to win it. Never before in the race for the White House has the competition been more diverse, nor divisive.
As hundreds of millions are spent in the countdown to election day, the equivalent of GDPs of small, struggling nations, messaging grows more acutely focused on the courtship of voters, building on bases, seeking to appeal to undecideds, imploring the need for all Americans to exercise their democratic right and responsibility to vote, to step forward and help shape the future of their nation’s economy, psyche, and one hopes, unity.
To be at this point in the race is to be in a period of intense noise. The media blitzes are expected, the massive spends a cost of doing business and praying for the return on investment, be it party funds, supporter donations, or personal wealth. This is nothing new. The new highs in spend are what they are. They are expected, and accepted.
What has been a great shock to the political system, and the people of the US, and dare it be said the world, has been the shocking, simply shocking, lows that the presidential race has reached, and continues to reach, with each passing day. Attacks on the opposition have become abusive, personal fur tearing and assaults on character and capabilities eclipsing professional agendas and policy perspectives. Social exchange has gone into freefall.
Painfully, embarrassingly, the vocabulary of the US presidential race, candidates, critics and commentators (official and those simply socially empowered with 140 keystrokes of opinion, qualified & verified or not, American and worldwide) alike, has become the stuff of tabloids, tantrums, bullies and brothel owners.
Credit where it is due – it is one candidate in particular who built his party campaign off of hurling offenses and building fear. Now a party nominee, the hateful and hurtful rhetoric has reached new highs, the national elections vocabulary new lows. Still, whether one’s one words or echoing those of another, to give such language, such sentiment oxygen, is to magnify the mess.
Back in the day when both candidates were children, to use the language used so freely and so unashamedly today, by those in the race and then magnified by the population at large, would have both candidates and all speaking such soiled language, grounded. Four letter words, hate speech, bullying – these used to be prohibited, punishable. And yet today, as the race reaches its climax, the entertainment of the race has stripped the candidates and the American people of a filter. Speaking one’s mind, regardless of prejudices and paranoia, had become applauded as being honest, being anti-establishment, being what is going to be what makes a nation great again.
But what happens once November 08th has come and gone. How will Americans look at one another as they look to their respective futures? Together, after pushing so far apart? Hopeful, after declaring oneself so hopeless? Safe and secure at home after being so overtly singled out for as unwelcome?
And what about once one crosses US borders? How does the world now look at this nation that has declared war on itself, one turning free speech into foul exchanges that cheapen the overall image and sense of ethics of a people? How does one maintain a seat at the table when they have shown absolutely no regard for table manners?
What we are seeing now is beyond comprehension. There are no words for what has become acceptable language. Whatever the outcome of the presidential race, the image of the position of the ‘President‘ has been bruised. The dark, painful colours of this fight will take years to fade, exceptional effort to heal, though no question scars will remain.
The scars? A society that allows such open, unedited, abusive and offensive language as everyday language. Walls have been built and bridges destroyed across the nation’s psyche, simply through words. Bricks and mortar were not needed.
Still, as the sun rises on November 09th, with ballots having been counted into the wee, dark hours of the morning, the victor announced and ballots safely discarded, how dearly, desperately, one can hope that thrown away with the ballot papers will be the rhetoric that was used to rip people apart, Americans recognising that from this day forward, greatness as a nation comes through a desire to be better first and foremost through how one looks at, speaks with, reaches out to the person standing right beside them, whether they were voting right, left, or in the middle just 24 hours before.
It’s not ok. And it is not an evolution of the times that must be accepted. Americans are better than this. We are all better that this. Decency is not a political policy, nor a position, nor a platform. It is a simple code that should, at a cellular level, be shared by all nationals, political preferences aside.
One can only pray that as the sun rises on November 09th, words of unity and respect will be be reawoken. America, the world, is better than this.
Saying a prayer……x
Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2016
Anita, thank you for putting into words what has been worrying and concerning about this contest. Ugly is what it is and concerning that there is little objection, particularly from the media. Rather than having to choose between two evils, I would just stay away.