Are We There Yet?

Two and a half more months of content-free campaign ads for state and local offices.

Two and a half more months of spin, hyperbole and outright falsehoods from national campaigns and the Super Pacs that support them.

Two and a half more months of voters being addressed as if we are idiots–and two and a half more months during which large numbers of voters behave as if they are–filling the comments sections of blogs with invective, treating complicated issues as if they are simple and obvious, and displaying racism, homophobia and anti-immigrant bigotries.

Elections, as political philosophers remind us, are a sign of human progress, a civilized substitute for warfare and other uses of force to settle our differences. Looked at in that light, perhaps the “dirty tricks,” the inane debates, the “win at all costs” behaviors are understandable, if unattractive.

Maybe we should just learn to live with the reality that elections aren’t really about ideas and competing policies, but more like sporting events where crowds root for those they’ve identified as their “team,” irrespective of the merits and sportsmanship of that team’s players. Maybe we should learn to accept that civilization is just a veneer, that reasoned argumentation based upon evidence and verification is still beyond us.

Maybe we should just accept that we’re not there yet.


  1. I couldn’t agree more. Thank you for so eloquently voicing this very frustrating aspect of contemporary politics. It doesn’t even matter which team I believe I will vote for anymore, I still refuse to watch the relentless campaigning because I don’t believe any of it. What I will do is look up their policy briefs and go with the one I believe in more. Even doing that can be extraordinarily difficult anymore. It seems as if they’re more concerned with issues of celebrity than of issues of public service.

  2. I don’t watch any shows on television except “Downton Abbey” and “Mad Men”, and they’re both done for the season. I am so glad I’m not seeing any political ads. Not watching television is wonderful: I recommend it.

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