Thinking about the upcoming election makes me feel a little bit panicky. I want to “do my part” and vote, but I think it’s wrong to be an uninformed voter. So I’ve spent a lot of the last two weeks listening to presidential campaign speeches, and speculation about the candidates and their ideas.
The problem is that I can spend two hours listening to speeches and come away with not much more than this: Our vice president used the word “literally” more times in one speech than any single person should in an entire year. I enjoyed both the Democratic and Republican conventions. But my brain tends to focus on emotions and storylines – rather than foreign policies and budget plans.
The more I hear, the more convinced I am that it doesn’t really matter which candidate wins. Neither of them will save this country; neither of them will completely destroy it. They’ll both potentially do some great things – they’ll both potentially make some big mistakes.
The thing that has stood out to me the most in all the campaigning is the trash talk. It leaves me wondering; Is this really what it comes to? How do we get to the point where it’s okay to bypass basic rules of human decency?
As a parent, the rudeness of it bugs me. These mature adults are doing the exact opposite of what we’re teaching our children. In our home, we respect people, even when they make different choices than we would. Our kids aren’t allowed to be rude to each other, to us, or to other people. We don’t tolerate name-calling, and we definitely don’t break other people down in public.
Maybe we live in a little cocoon of idealism, but we believe that decency and politeness really do matter; that one of the keys to being successful and happy in life is to love and build up the people around us.
And then we turn on the presidential campaign speeches.
In real life, I lose respect for people who break others down in order to build themselves up. And, honestly, I can’t make myself believe that these rich and famous men are anything more than average people. I feel like we’re being asked to hold them to different standards than the people we live and work with, and I can’t do that.
Maybe this doesn’t completely apply, but I keep thinking of Uncle Andrew in the Magician’s Nephew.
“But of course you must understand that rules of that sort, however excellent they may be for little boys – and servants – and women – and even people in general, can’t possibly be expected to apply to profound students and great thinkers and sages. No, Digory. Men like me who possess hidden wisdom, are freed from common rules just as we are cut off from common pleasures. Ours, my boy, is a high and lonely destiny.”
As he said this he sighed and looked so grave and noble and mysterious that for a second Digory really thought he was saying something rather fine. But then he remembered the ugly look he had seen on his Uncle’s face the moment before Polly had vanished; and all at once he saw through Uncle Andrew’s grand words. “All it means,” he said to himself, “is that he thinks he can do anything he likes to get anything he wants.”