A week from today the final voter will exit the polls somewhere in the United States and the 2012 election will be over except for the counting and the postmortems. Many of us have already voted. At this point few will change their minds.
We are barraged by messages of all sorts from all directions. The swill that passes for “information” in TV ads and independent expenditure mailers has been non-credible and unending, and will likely get worse.
We are buried in a flood of highly selective misinformation, from all sides on all issues. It is all designed to confuse and inflame and divide.
And Minnesota, where I write, is not even considered a “battleground state”. Oh, how it must be in those….
Last night I watched some of the incessant coverage of Hurricane Sandy, then hitting the east coast in conjunction with high tide. A day or two earlier, Sandy was described as “a truly massive storm on satellite. One of, if not the largest tropical cyclone to ever develop in the Atlantic basin” according to Accuweather.com. It had earlier devastated oft-beleaguered Haiti* for several days. As I write in early morning Oct 30, no one is sure of the extent of the damage this storm will inflict on the U.S.
Of course, the hurricane was about the only news last night, and that news was frequently interrupted by wave upon wave of political attack ads.
Some commentator talked about how we Americans put politics aside during times of crisis, such as during this storm. Nonetheless the ugly process of political destruction of the enemy other continued on its very profitable way. Indeed, someone else correctly noted that disasters are good times for business and the economy. What is wrecked has to be rebuilt. There is lots of money to be made….
In political campaigns, wreckage is the objective leading to a win; rebuilding is irrelevant. November 7 is day one to the next war two years out.
I got to thinking of we Americans – all of us – as passengers on a luxury liner. We’ve been on such a liner only one time, and that was on a Baltic cruise in June, 2003**. It was quite a vessel, the Regal Princess. (It now sails under another name out of another port in the Pacific).
(click to enlarge)
You have to have money, either real or borrowed, to be on that kind of boat, and such vessels become little states of their owns: a Captain, crew, passengers…. Even in large vessels there is no room for disorder. They are communities.
What if we Americans were collectively sentenced to live on this luxury liner, endlessly sailing from place to place. And what if we had to confront ourselves daily, with our contemporary political system, where the constant emphasis was on taking control of the ship represented by the Captain and crew. Where one ‘sides’ priority prevailed, and the other side – the losers – were forced to comply with the winners wishes. The Captain, secure in the wheelhouse, set the course to wherever, whatever.
Oh, what a dismal vessel that luxury liner would be. The winner would win nothing whatsoever as the losers regrouped and sabotaged the winner. And maybe those losers would then win, putting a new Captain topside, with an entirely new crew.
But what would be won? Absolutely nothing. And how would the passengers benefit? Not at all.
Come to think of it, we are sentenced to life on this kind of luxury liner….
Next Tuesday night there will be election watch parties here and there. In the end, there will be the winners parties, and the losers parties.
The debris – and the hangovers – will be the same, whether at the winners or the losers party.
If we members of the wealthiest society ever known cannot figure out how to do Win-Win in politics, we are doomed to a truly dismal Lose-Lose future.
Vote wisely November 6.
My personal view: summarized here. Election 2012 in Search Box for a list of all the commentaries.
* – October 26, 2012: I am writing you to let you know of the situation in Haiti following Hurricane Sandy. I just returned from a trip to Port-au-Prince. The situation is devastating. The storm stayed for almost five days. The rain fell without ceasing. The wind was very strong. The streets are flooded. In some areas the water is waist deep. On my drive to and from Port-au-Prince, I saw many bridges that have fallen and are destroyed. I have seen streets that I pass everyday, now are rushing rivers. As much as this saddens me, I am not surprised. With the infrastructure we have, these results are to be expected. The departments that were affected the most were the South, South East, West, Nippes, and Grand Anse. It saddens me that school just began three weeks ago, and already there is another problem for the people of Haiti. There are many people who were still living in tents or in unsafe housing, and the hurricane took away what shelter they had. Hurricane Sandy has left many people displaced and with no place to turn to. Many families in Haiti already had a difficult time providing for their families. Now after the hurricane, it is more difficult to find food to eat, and people who give food cannot provide for everyone who needs it. I am asking for you to please continue to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers. It means so much to me, and to the Haitian people. Thank you so much for these prayers and for everything you have done for us already. It is appreciated so much. I cannot put into words how you have helped the people of Haiti.
Blessing to you,
Rev. Dr. Kesner Ajax
** – The highlight of that cruise was a visit to the magnificent Peterhof and Catherine Palaces outside St. Petersburg, Russia. The opulence was almost overwhelming. I couldn’t help but think of the peasants and artisans who built those luxurious places but never really shared in the wealth. Of course, nothing is ever permanent. Seated in our bus waiting to depart, we watched a couple of old beggar women. I was tempted to take a photograph, but it was too sad. It was an uncomfortable moment. History will continue to be the great leveler.
UPDATE October 31: It was gratifying to see Gov Christie of New Jersey and President Obama working together. It is how government should work.
Here are a couple of photos sent from NYC by my friend Michael Knox of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation. Michael was stranded in the city near one of the most photographed problems caused by Sandy.