I’m not big on faith or belief. That’s not to say I’m an atheist or even particularly anti-spiritual, I just prefer thought and knowledge 9 times out of 10 when I have the choice. Specifically, I’m not big on investing “faith” in things that exist in the physical world – you don’t NEED to “believe” in real things because they’re right there – you can see them, touch them, KNOW them and render a concrete personal verdict.
Which is sort of a long preface to explaining why there tends to be, in almost every major world event, a single key moment that stands out and reminds me why I tend to invest so little faith in, for example, my fellow man. Last week, that moment finally came for this year’s U.S. Presidential Election:
Watch the whole thing.
Seen above: John McCain. War hero. American patriot. Distinguished United States Senator. A man more qualified in character and “on paper” to hold the office of President than any Republican or Democrat nominee who’s run in my lifetime. A man who, by my accounting, was cheated out of the nomination by his own party in 2000 – a year in which I believe (yes, I said it) he would have won, would’ve been one of the great Presidents of history and would’ve left the country in a HELL of a better state than the man who won instead.
A man who – when confronted in the above clip by audience members at his one of his own speeches throwing lies, mischaracterizations, conspiracy theories and veiled racial/cultural epiteths at his opponent Barack Obama – responds by telling them that they are WRONG. That his opponent is not their enemy, that he is not a villian, that Obama is a good man and that, while he wants to win himself, they do not need to be AFRAID of an Obama victory.
Mark where you were when you saw this, because it’ll be one of the only times you’ll EVER see it: A candidate for President of the United States telling his supporters to, essentially, grow the fuck up. That they should vote for him because they think he’s the better candidate or because they agree more strongly with his positions, not because of some trumped-up “battle between good and evil” pandering fear-mongering bullshit. He spoke to them like one adult to another, telling them they were behaving badly and expecting them to do better. You know, the things we used to expect LEADERS to do.
The audience’s response? They booed him.
Every election we throw our hands up in exasperation over “mudslinging” and “negative campaigning.” We put on our best Hamlet and wail about “why do they act like this!? WHY!!??” And we’re completely full of shit about it. We know EXACTLY “why,” and we’re just trying to deflect the blame. Politicians campaign like spoiled, angry, entitled children because we MAKE THEM. We reward them when they do (i.e. George W. Bush gets to be the Republican nominee and later President after spreading a lie about McCain having an illegitimate black child in 2000) and when they do the right thing (see above) we PUNISH them. Because at the end of the day, sleazy and simplistic campaigns about character-assassinations and make-believe “good vs. evil” stagings WORK. Because enough people in this country are sufficiently ignorant, small-minded and intellectually WEAK for this to be the only way to stir them to political action.
We get the campaign we deserve.
Oh, BTW… MSNBC? Yeah. I’m the last guy to prattle on with the myth of the “liberal media boogeyman.” HOWEVER, putting “McCain forced to defend Obama…” in the news blurb there? That’s bad form. I know it makes for better copy and, let’s face it, boogeyman bullshit or not we know he’s not ‘your’ candidate, but that’s poor sport plain and simple. Anyone watching the clip can see “forced” is a leading and contextually incorrect term to use here, not in the least because it’s needlessly dismissive of a sincere action that you NEVER see presidential candidates take. Uncool.