Yesterday was election day.. state elections. As I write this the votes are not all counted, the results are not all in. But they are over. Whoever wins, I can't help feel that in a sense we are all losers in the election process. We are all survivors of brutal nasty wars of words. When I went to South Carolina for the writers conference I had the chance to see political ads from there to put beside the Maine political ads and the Massachusetts, Georgia, Ohio, and New York political ads I have seen. As someone who writes and teaches about the ethics of truthfulness I find political campaigns profoundly disturbing. Truth is massaged, shaded, and twisted to places so misleading, that the words have little truth left in them.
When I taught school I used to try to have students write down the promises during October and then we would track the results as part of current events the rest of the year. It was generally disappointing, and always provided demonstrations of the cooperative realities of politics, the origins of skepticism, and why cynics are fed.
I also had students write down or highlight the competing claims in political flyers in local papers and left on doorknobs. They quickly realized that not everything they read could possibly be true, that the truth would be tough to find and decipher and it would take effort. Suddenly voting seemed a tougher job than before.
Even local school board, town council, and bond issue campaigns verge on trashy lately. And the signs??? Do we really need dozens of signs for the same campaign on a single corner? Is that good use of money and effort? Even small town school board campaigns now need large amounts of cash to mount a campaign. Small wonder that kids running for class president even in middle school now engage in trash talking their opponents, signs, and giveaways as they model the adults route to success.
I worry. What we adults, candidates, and voters are teaching the coming generations about the value and usefulness of ethics, honesty, choices, and promises?
I am a lifelong educator, writer and author, a foster, bio, and adoptive parent, happy mom of five daughters, Grandma to six, Nana to four, and church and theater musician. Oh yes, and all-round optimistic, crazy lady.