ON MY MIND: The humorless farce

On My Mind | Maureen Burns

With a title like this, are you wondering what this is about? Oh, come on, isn’t it clear it’s about this election cycle and politics as it seems to be playing out in today’s world?

I was chatting with friends — and get this — they were of both political persuasions. One has even held political offices and been a solid lifetime member of the “other” party. She titled this column and everyone agreed. We chatted amicably and left as we came, as friends, not enemies because we share different political views.

One said, “It has become a reality show.” Another piped in. “It’s become a contest of who can be the meanest and who can skirt the issues.”

Many think the election cycle should be shortened and the amount of money spent should be severely limited. Billions of dollars have now been spent on this campaign. Wow! Just think of the good that could have been done with that much coin.

The media is a huge part of making the modern political scene a horse race. “Johnny’s in the lead. Billy’s pulling up. Tommy’s lagging.” There are now news (I use that word lightly) stations that, to me, seem like hate mongers. They are opposing and ranting and their main goal is to divide and conquer. They’re on 24/7. I have dear friends and family who listen to their chosen biased station all day, every day. These stations are as polarizing as you can get and are driving out unbiased news stations. The money is in dividing, mocking and promoting hatred and distrust. What the money is not in is compromise, working together, being open minded, or respecting our fellow man. Those seem to be outdated values. Would our country have gotten this far if political parties were never able to work together?

I saw a segment on “60 Minutes” about a man who has people sign a contract that they will NOT work with people of the opposing party. His goal is to not ever compromise or be open minded. It seems to me, an old preschool teacher, that this is like saying, “No, Johnny, you can never play with the truck in the sand box. Only Billy gets to play with it. We do not share here.”

Our group decided the debates have been dumbed down. No one listens to each other. The media hype seems silly — for example, who can do zingers best. I may not be the smartest knife in the drawer, but I do know that sarcasm comes from the Greek word meaning tearing of flesh. Is this our goal?

Dr. Gary Hauck teaches his college students to be critical thinkers. “Identify and challenge your own assumptions. Listen to words and statements and determine the context in which they were made. Consider all sides of the issues. Check the facts.”

Check the facts. Ah, yes. Fact checkers are now at the ready to tell us about all the lies and colored truths.

Several said they want to hear what the candidates will do and what they truly stand for. They do not want to hear them demean, degrade or bully the other candidates. They do want to hear them actually and honestly answer the questions. People are tired of all the ads and phone calls. Personally, my hand is getting tired from hanging up on all of them. Most people don’t believe what they say.

Even local political ads have saddened me by their slimy content. When and how did we sink to this low level?

I could write on and on with all the frustrations we all seem to be sharing. I guess I will quit, though, and end with a couple of quotes. “Your public servants serve you right.” Adlai Stevenson.

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.” Henry Kissinger.

And, “It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for any public office.” — H.L. Mencken.

 Maureen Burns, a Greenville resident, is a professional speaker and author. Her e-mail address is maureenburns@maureenburns.com.

Leave a Comment