You crawl over there......

Beyond Echo Chambers to the Screaming Mob

votingThis is the byproduct of a conversation with the First Reader about the events of the day. We did something that ought to be empowering and satisfying, and both of us were happy, in a way, to have done it. We went and voted. Not together, schedules didn’t allow. But when we had a moment to talk this evening we found that we were in agreement about it. No, not who we voted *for* although it was amusing to discover that we’d been very similar there.

What we agree on is that we were sick of political ads, and we look forward to the next 24 hours of ad-free bliss, at least until the ads begin for the next Presidential election. We don’t watch TV, and still, they came at us. Social media, the radio, over the phones (not having a landline is no longer an escape). Those who campaign relentlessly, especially with the constant smear tactics, have long ago lost sight of what the true objective is here. Where once, the idea was to win over voters, they have now become so repellent that I know my beloved and I are not the only ones to carefully take note of the worst offenders, and NOT vote for them. I change the radio channel, or listen only to the Spanish station (where there may be ads, but I can’t understand them yet). The First Reader described one smear campaign that had him wishing he could actually vote for the target of the ad (station was not local).

moose poopThe trash, oh my goodness, the trash. The garish postcards saying nothing in the mail everyday. The street-signs littering every highway and byway. It all comes at you, and you can’t avoid it, however much you want to. And yet, none of it says anything at all. All carefully polished. It reminds me a lot of a certain tourist item from my childhood in Alaska. You see, there are these little objects in the wilderness that are about the size and shape of a chocolate-covered almond. They really resemble that, only slightly larger. You wouldn’t want to eat one, though. After passing through a moose’s digestive tract, they can’t be as good as chocolate. But some clever wag has created a little cottage industry of collecting the nice dry ones, shellacking them, and mounting them as jewelry. Seriously. You can indeed polish a turd, and have someone pay good money for it. Which is exactly what all the politicians remind me of.

And there is the extremism. It’s no longer acceptable to be a moderate, it seems. You must either be on one side, or the other. You’re either over here with this loon, or over there, with that one (I’m not sure either actually exist in our reality, but in some delusional world of our own). And it is a screaming match between them. I don’t do well with screaming. I do even less well with being told to sit down and shut up, you’re_____________________ label of the day. Slap a label on me, and I’ll pull it off, drop it to the ground, and step on it, calmly, looking you in the eye and advancing. I recommend you take a step back.

The small truths are lost in all this process. It’s a sickening, churning moil of power that makes me want to look away, but I can’t. They keep rubbing my nose in it. I don’t care which side you’re on, when you start frothing at the mouth, I stop listening. I wonder what kind of a person willingly goes into politics. Not one I’d care to sit and have coffee with, I suspect. I wonder if they ever step out of their echo chambers to see the screaming mobs they whip into existence, or if the ordinary lives of ordinary people are just too helpless for them to be interested in.

I know for a certainty they aren’t listening. The only thing that matters to them is power. But I have to wonder. If these words are a whisper, how many whispers does it take to drown out the screaming?