Friday, February 19, 2016
The Game Needs to Change—We Need to Put the Civil Back into Civil Society
I am deeply tired of the "who can be uglier" race that we currently have going on in both parties. On the Republican side, it is the candidates themselves that have tried to prove that they are MORE racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, and greedy than the next guy. On the Democratic side, we have the spectacle of the candidates being relatively cordial and actually talking about (to be honest, rather minor) differences of opinion while their partisans on social media bend over backwards to be the most offensive, outrageous, hate mongers and conspiracy theorists, outdoing the Republican machine in their trashing of the other's candidate. It's like the idiotic anger and elation at a mindless and meaningless sporting event except, in this game, the opponent is, obviously, the Devil incarnate.
This election is serious, perhaps the most serious in my experience with politics, and I remember the Eisenhower/Stevenson contest in 1956. The first time that I was eligible to vote for Governor was 1970, and I voted against Ronald Reagan. I have voted in every election since then. I have also watched the intentional dumbing down and incivility of the electoral process since the Republicans lost so badly with Goldwater in 1964. The rhetoric of Nixon but especially Agnew took the discussion to a new level of vitriol. Reagan continued the all out assault on "liberals," but it was the election of Bill Clinton that ushered in the new era of Conservative talk radio and, with the deregulation and consolidation of media, the advent of NEWSCorp, FOX News, Clear Channel, and and the no-holds barred, partisan, mischaracterization, distortion, and outright lying that has simply come to be accepted as spin. The media, including social media, has been not merely complicit but instrumental in this negative transformation. Just like Scalia's court decision about innocence, the actual truth is completely irrelevant. The news no longer presents actual perspective or context. They don't even try to find and present the truth. They merely offer a "he said/he said" paraphrased report or 3-seconds of edited footage with whichever slant their corporate masters have demanded.
Unfortunately, most people have not demanded better; instead, we have bought into their game. We do not find ourselves talking about what really matters and our vison of what this country should be or how we might get there. We simply post ridiculous graphics with false quotes and sarcastic gibes to make the other side look foolish or corrupt and then gleefully attack the other side for their obvious ignorance, stupidity or evil.
I posit the following. I don't care if you are for Sanders, Clinton, Warren or Obama, Trump, Cruz, Kasich or Paul. The only way that we will ever crawl out of the miasmic mire in which we have sunk ourselves is to begin to actually think deeply, discuss civilly, and listen carefully—repeating the process indefinitely—until the fog of corrupt corporate control has lifted, and we can return to the business of creating a civil civil society (This is not a mistaken repetition—"civil" needs to be at the heart of a progressive civilization).