#565 – Dick Bernard: Election 2012 #15. The Political Conversation

I had a dream overnight – this is literally true – of living in what seemed to be a somewhat primitive society somewhere where people, whether ordinary or high and mighty, had identical rights to have good ideas and actually possessed the possibility of having these ideas considered without threat of ridicule or worse.
The notion was that in the interest of the greater good, everyone had a chance of prevailing in the marketplace of ideas.
It was a pretty nice dream, actually, but it was a very threatening one to certain members of the society who stood to lose some power if some of these good ideas were actually implemented.
Things deteriorated rapidly, and I woke up.
As I say, it was a dream.
Almost exactly six months from today we’ll be having a hugely important election to determine who represents us at all levels, anywhere that we live, and unfortunately many of us, perhaps most, won’t want to talk – or listen – about the issues in that election, except with people who agree with us.
In our time of 24/7 access to infinite sources of information, we are ever more ignorant because we don’t consider other points of view…and we don’t have to.
Already I see the closed-minded “you can go straight to hell” attitude, and it comes from all sides.
It will get worse.
We’ve been taught to despise “politicians”, but we’re the ones who are “politics”, and thus are the very “politicians” we despise, and we’ll be choosing our fate in November.
We seem to demand and expect the very things that we despise in politicians and political advertising. It is not healthy.

Hopefully we’ll vote better informed than those ubiquitous – and lying – “forwards” that race around these days, and insulate ourselves from the sickening torrent of propaganda ads that will be funded by largely anonymous wealth and pollute television these coming months. These ads will not be meant to inform; only to manipulate and destroy. They’re the modern day version of carpet-bombing.
There is another way, and I was thinking about it yesterday in my “birthday” post. Indeed, what follows is what I wrote yesterday, and then decided to fold into a separate post.
I’m old enough to remember the edges of the “good old days”, and while they weren’t all that good, in many ways they were better than what we live in now.
At least people talked with each other.
They had no other choice.
A few years ago I read the book Bones of Plenty, by Lois Phillips Hudson. It is a college education in how it was, then. It is worth reading today.
Bones of Plenty was about 1934, perhaps the most awful year of the Great Depression. It is set in a tiny rural community 20 or 30 miles west of Jamestown, North Dakota. (The town still exists, just off I-94. I’ve been there.)
In 1934 there was no television, and while radio existed nobody had one, and telephones when one had one were not used frivolously.
There were newspapers and magazines – lots of them. They were the window on the world as then known. And if somebody wrote something, it was printed.
And they were read, every word, every ad.
Then there were the meetings: at the town hall, after church, in the saloon, at country dances. You could love Roosevelt or hate him but you not only needed to talk to someone who might disagree with you, but actually listen to the point of view of someone else.
Sure there were fights, often alcohol-fueled, but at the end of the day, if your barn burned down, it was your neighbors who you’d depend on to rebuild; and they on you.
We don’t think in those terms any more, and it’s killing us as a civil society.
We are the ones who can change the conversation….
November 6, 2012 is only six months away.
Those candidates we select are the most important single decisions we will make as citizens of our nation.
Be very well informed.
Directly related Post here and here.

1 reply
  1. Val Dupre
    Val Dupre says:

    Dick,
    Everytime I’ve heard you say…”we need to talk to each other”, I agree with you wholeheartedly even though I haven’t had success in doing so. I concluded that I was lacking in skills or information.
    On Tuesday, 5/8/12,I caught the Tavis Smiley show (http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Tavis-Smiley-9/episodes/Social-psychologist-Jonathan-Haidt-38472) when he interviewed author Janathan Haidt regarding his new book, “The Righteous Mind – Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.” I have not had a chance to pick it up yet but it sounds helpful for this mission. I’d be anxious to hear if anyone has read it?
    Val

    Reply

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