Have you ever played a game like Bridge, Spades or even Basketball or gone Bowling; where you had the keep score and at the top of the page you write, Us vs Them? You and I both know that there is no neutral third party keeping score. Someone from either team is watching the numbers and there’s always a debate if it’s correct. Generally it’s the losers that start questioning the tally, even before the final count. That’s what it was like watching the 2020 political conventions. For the first time it consisted of pre-recorded videos and Zoom calls, you know, Skype’s replacement for video chats. It was painfully boring at times, and some keen eyes were able to catch doubles in Democrat’s Zoom. There are elections every year though the mainstream media, alternative media, the candidates and the general public tend to overlook that fact. There are races for Governor, Senate, City Council, Police Chief, Sheriff, and a whole host of others. Each election just like in high school, the candidates try to convince you/us that they’re the best person for the job. Having been part of student government myself, I know the art of campaigning for office.
I started out as an Honor Corps member in Job Corps. I held every office, starting with Sergeant of arms in the dormitory. In my two years there I worked my way up to president of the Dorms and finally president of the student body. Elections and re-election are hard. The first time you want people to know you, the second time you have a record of achievements to work with. At all times it’s a delicate walk between you and the people you govern. Striking a balance between what they want and what’s needed. They never know the whole picture, they only know what they want and get frustrated and angry when they don’t get it.
Knowing what it’s like to have that power in your hands is what has frustrated me most about current elections. Especially recent presidential elections! The rhetoric (not a bad word) has shot pass policies and track records over the moon to identify politics. The ugliness of carving us up in tiny pieces, placing us in boxes with labels according to what we are others, identify us as. It’s so bad that the US vs Them score keeping is bizarrely skewed. This brings me to why you’re reading this and the point of the title.
I’ve lost the patience to sit for hours and watch the pre-game events. I’ll watch a little the first day then catch up the next day on YouTube. I watched Michelle’s Obama speech the night it aired. Then again the next day, each time there was something that irritated me. I learned in college that when you say things like, always, your argument is already wrong. “Brenda you always say that!” It’s a false statement, Brenda can’t say that every time, every day, for life. Yes, it may seem simple to you but the implication of such a statement when referring to “racial violence” has far more reaching damage and does not bring about “unity”. So imagine my surprise and disgust when about five minutes in she says “…and a never ending list of innocent people of color continue to be murdered…” she goes on and adds that it’s met with “Derision…” from the white house, causing division. If you didn’t know, it’s a $20 word for ridicule. I’m not sure where she gets that from. Is it because as people keep saying “the president won’t say black lives matter”? I don’t even say that, I never have and won’t ever. Honestly, saying “I love you” to me means absolutely nothing. If you show me than when you otter the words it will have meaning. Likewise, saying the phrase whose name is derived from the organization, is nothing. The organization itself gets a big pat on the back and tons of air time. Look where that’s gotten us.
I stumbled onto an article from the LA Times, where celebrity after celebrity praise Michelle’s speech. Not shocking since the Obamas were awarded celebrity status shortly after entering the public’s view. However in contrast; the First lady, Melanie Trump has been met snarls and scorn, from day one. In fact, I recall designers refusing to make dresses for her. Quite ridiculous considering she is a former model. But many were offering Michelle there services. And with regard to their speeches few celebrities if any were negative towards Obama. While It didn’t take long for the likes of Bette Midler to say something negative about Melania. Like “Oh God she still can’t speak English”. I am all for people’s rights too free speech. But this proves the point I made earlier, That things have gone so far that there’s skewed results. From political correctness to tribalism to that new phrase cancel culture.
This week the RNC started it’s convention. The difference was clear. A lot less boring too. Kimberly Guilfoyle delivered the heat the first night, everytime she said “America!” I giggled expecting her to break out in a song, like in musicals. I have no idea why she spoke like she was in a packed arena but it was fun to watch. But after watching Michelle’s speech I was eager hear First lady Melania Trump’s speech. When I did I was in awesome of now she handled the subject of “unrest” in the country. I have would added a quote but there was to much to cut out a piece. But starting at about 14:40 she began by say how great this country is and though we dislike some of our past, it’s still good. She moves into the need to focus on the future while still learning from the past. There was no name calling or finger pointing… then, she made an appeal to all Americans, not to destroy the cities but work towards solutions and unity. Although I was not move to tears I turned to my 17 year old daughter and said “That’s how you do it!”. I had an immediate flashback to Michelle Obama’s words. Both discussing the same subject matter, one called for unity via responsibility and understanding. The other called for “unity” via a constant reminder of the past and current tragedies. One towards frustration, the other towards peace.
Remember when I said that when you govern it has to be a delicate balance. At one point I was president of both the dorm and student body, eventually I was asked to choose, but I was in the middle of a negotiation between the self and the student body. The staff knew the budget, the money and the viability of the list of demands from the student body. The student body was clueless, they were angry and they just wanted to things that they wanted. Air-conditioning in every room, vending machines one all dorms. That’s just a few. The Air-conditioning would not happen until years later when left Job Corps. But compromises, middle ground was made. Though I disliked a lot of staff members, it wasn’t my job to voice my dislike, it was to work deals that were beneficial to the students. I went back to the dorms, I chose take care of my guys. We got some new paint, plants, TV and new furniture for all the dormitory lounges. They didn’t get everything they wanted but I got a lot of their needs taken care of. Yep… Friday or Saturday nights you’d find me, dorm president, sitting in the lounge watch TV with a needle and tread in hand fixing my pants or peeking out the lounge window; keeping an eye on the laundry room where my clothes were washing.
I can not understand the need to drum up negative “political issues”, working on people’s emotions just win. Yes, I understand the art of campaigning but this new style of politics is borderline insanity. To think that conventions are about rallying your troops, your base. So how is boring speeches, depressing content, rallying enthusiasm? Patriotism and unity? And just a plain joy of loving and living and the United States of America. How do talk about an economy being down and people unable to pay bills, right after talking about Covid-19 and blame another human being for it. Where is the hope in that message that makes me feel overjoyed and wanting to run out and vote for your candidate?
The current cultural environment has done away with the old somewhat playful, US vs Them. It has been replaced with labels, identity politics and “cancel culture”. I don’t know what needs shift to bring about change but it needs to happen some. Even sports sucks!! Well, what do you think, dear reader? Until next time…