It’s Election Season
Here it is May, and our thoughts and hearts turn to spring, graduation, Mother’s Day, and honoring veterans for Memorial Day. We like to devote our May issue to these themes – enjoy!
In the bigger world outside our village, other ideas dominate the airwaves; the war in Ukraine being the most obvious, taking over the number one spot from COVID, which for over two years was the top news story.
And recently, and from here on until November, the American public, and to some extent, the rest of the world, will be bombarded by another news cycle– “The Election.” Some of us have barely recovered from the last one, and now the mid-terms are upon us. For the next six months, anyone paying attention will be hammered by election campaigns.
The TV commercials have started to appear; each candidate boasting about how great he or she is and how they can solve our problems. Sometimes they shamelessly attack their opponent or the opposing party. Elections are like the Super Bowl: two teams, one winner, fierce competition, not unlike the war in Ukraine. The two-party system is like the Crips and the Bloods, two rival gangs, one red, one blue. This polarization is hard on a nation, and the world.
This election cycle, next time you hear a politician blaming the other party or pointing out another candidate’s faults, try to remember the Mirror Theory. Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer wrote about Mirror Theory in the mid-1700s. The Theory states that whatever irritates us in others is a direct reflection of the same unconscious aspects of ourselves. Judging others is akin to looking in a mirror and seeing ourselves. The faults we see in others present us with opportunities for self-reflection. For example, have you noticed that control freaks are the first to call others “control freaks”? You know that old saying, “It takes one to know one,” or, “You have to be it, to see it”? And perhaps you have heard the saying, “When you point a finger, there are three other fingers pointing right back at you!” By the same token, we can use this theory, not just for altruistic reasons, but to also avoid embarrassing ourselves; when we talk negatively about others, we inadvertently point out our own faults.
Remembering this simple theory will make election season much more tolerable, if not downright entertaining. Next time an annoying candidate starts putting someone down, simply substitute the words they use, such as, “He, she, or they,” with “I, me, or my,” and you will have an insight into the candidate’s true character. If the language of elections were clean, the campaigns would betruly more meaningful, demonstrate integrity, reflect positive values, and become a more effective process. We might even end up with elected officials who deserve our votes.
American elections are about money; billions of dollars are spent on campaigns, some of it taxpayer funded and much of it bankrolled by private interests – the best election money can buy. So, this is what we have in store for us: six months of bickering and backbiting about who is the best politician for the job. For many candidates, and voters alike, it is a game of stamina. By the time Election Day rolls around, if voters aren’t diligent, they will succumb to the media blitz and buy whatever product the media sell us.
Does anyone out there follow British politics? There is one thing they do right, and the U.S. would do well to follow their lead: the British election season is six weeks. Not two years, not six months, but six weeks! Just imagine avoiding political commercials until mid-September. That would leave airtime for more drug commercials, because there aren’t enough of them, right? If there are any policymakers out there reading this, consider bringing the idea of a six-week election cycle to Washington.
Politics can be painful and election season can be toxic because it can be so polarized and even full of hate. If we get too wrapped up in the news, we can conclude that the world is off its rails. Let’s stay positive, gear up for a nice summer and for now, let’s give our attention to what is nearest and dearest to us, such as spring, graduation, Mother’s Day, the positive local news we bring you through this paper, and honoring veterans for Memorial Day.
Editor, Questa del Rio News