Political Hyperbole: Screaming Matches in an Echo Chamber

I don’t know what you think, but as far as I’m concerned, the sharp elbows and obfuscation that have become pro forma here in DC have gotten exponentially worse now that jockeying for position in the presidential primary season has begun. The fact that these races start so far in advance of the actual election makes me feel as though we’re almost never off cycle. It’s exhausting. For that reason alone, I would probably avoid ever moving to Iowa or New Hampshire. Aside from the handful of journalists who live for the scrum, what I am observing from people of a wide variety of political perspectives is cynicism and resignation. Nobody believes anything they read, see, or hear, anymore.

From my perspective, the fact that the media choose to focus their attention on stories which perpetuate a sense of anger, dissatisfaction, and victimization does a grave disservice to us all. I’m not suggesting we gloss things over, but why the relentless promotion of stories about outrage? How can everything be so bleak? It can’t be! We’re here, not in Syria! Where is any positive message? The image of the shining city on the hill has been deliberately obscured in an attempt to “face the truth” about our country. Sure, we have serious problems to address, but nothing gets accomplished when all we’re told is that society sucks, it’s “their” fault, and America has nothing to look forward to or be proud of.

I certainly don’t believe that, do you?

Whether it’s Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, or anyone else equally determined to get them airtime, the only voters who show enthusiasm for these candidates are either colossally naïve or impress me as the sort who deliberately seek out echo chambers where their own righteous indignation gets reflected back. The issues and proffered “solutions” these candidates offer are so distorted it’s like a fun house mirror. I’m just waiting for one of them elected and then Ooops! Now that they’ve had time to reconsider, to better understand how “complicated” the issue is, well, they’ve decided to take the country in “another direction.” President Obama did exactly this after he was elected. A few weeks ago, the Clinton campaign released a “fact sheet” about her Benghazi emails. Yeah, right, it’s a fact sheet…

Simultaneously, we are throwing away strong leaders, like David Petraeus, for personal failings that have little to no impact on their ability to be executives. The reactions to so much these days is knee jerk. The speed at which righteous indignation and loud mouthed opinions get shared results in less and less thoughtful deliberation and common sense solutions. While I abhor any abuse of power by the State, there’s a direct relationship between telling the police to back off enforcement efforts and the sky rocketing homicide rate in Baltimore this summer.

Is feeling insulted or “disrespected” the worst thing to ever happen? Why would you ever give somebody else that much power over your personal dignity—no matter what they say? They’re just some asshole who said something stupid! Has anyone’s life ever been enhanced by looking for slights and injuries?

These days, we are bombarded with reports of “crises” relayed in terms and tones that convey they are all of equal importance. How important is it for us to watch an entire press conference about Jimmy Carter’s cancer or how many rounds of golf the President plays during his vacation? What does catty speculation about a candidate’s weight or hair style do to enhance the public’s understanding of relevant issues? As sad as it is that a child gets abducted, why does anyone outside the local viewing public need to know about it? Why is it that (at least in DC or Santa Barbara), more often than not, when urging the public to be on the watch for a suspected assailant, the news anchors often omit any description of the suspect’s skin color? Things that are unimportant get dissected in detail while things that may make a real difference get glossed over.

What in the world is going on?

None of what I’ve written has anything to do with re-booting except for the fact that, as overwhelmed and fed up as we may feel, as re-booters, it is incumbent upon us to exercise calm, common sense, and critical thinking when it comes to assessing the information we are being fed. Echo chambers, yelling matches, or sticking our heads in the proverbial sand get equal billing when it comes to the Theater of the Absurd which constitutes today’s political and media arenas. We must think for ourselves. There will be no perfect candidate. There will be no issue that gets resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. But if we don’t work together, if we don’t seek out examples of the things that are going right in this country, we really will lose out. People of integrity and good will can hold very different views, but if our respect for one another continues to erode at the pace it already has, we all lose.

I don’t write about politics very often because it’s become such a volatile subject and re-booting has nothing to do with it, but given the political slant given to just about every topic under the sun, I had to say something.

Political quandry

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One Response to “Political Hyperbole: Screaming Matches in an Echo Chamber”

  1. Kaaren Robertson Says:

    Excellent thoughts, Chrisanna. I am awake so early that it is still dark. Xx. Mom

    Kaaren Robertson

    >

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