For most of my entire life I have had a particular disdain for politics. I have never been attracted to our political system, mainly because I haven’t wanted to waste my time and energy in something that was, by its very nature, corrupt and dishonest. I have chosen for most of my adult years to invest in social projects and faith-based communities that carry out my beliefs in real, tangible ways. The values and priorities I was instilled with tend to “lean left”…but, on the whole, I’m a down-the-middle moderate who has a difficult time making decisions and can see both sides of most arguments. Perhaps this is also why politics is of no real value to me.
I became increasingly invested in the 2008 Presidential Election during Primary / Caucus season because of two individuals — John McCain and Barack Obama. Both of these men seemed to debunk the notion of “politics as usual”, which was refreshing to me. As far back as February, I remember thinking of posting both an Obama and a McCain sign in my yard, as a way to tell the world “I don’t care about partisan politics – I care about integrity, and both of these guys have it”.
But then, as Phil Collins once sang, something happened on the way to heaven. Both of these great men, having secured each of their party’s nominations, were gobbled up by the political machine. It started innocently enough with the relatively harmless lobbing of water balloons in the direction of the opponent; simply pointing out ideological differences between the Candidate A and Candidate B. Over time, however, the water balloons turned into tomatoes…then stones…and now we are in full hand grenade mode. The attacks are as cruel and crass as ever, with McCain taking on the role of the desperate street fighter trying to punch his way back in the game, and Obama able to sit comfortably atop his double-digit lead in the polls and try to cast McCain as George W 2.0.
What happened to their aforementioned integrity? Where are the John McCain and Barack Obama that I grew accustomed to in the cold winter months of 2007-08? I feel like Yoda in “The Revenge of the Sith” (Star Wars III) when he says, “the young boy you trained (Anakin), gone he is; consumed by Darth Vader”. These two great Americans have been consumed by the dark side of American politics. In their attempts to appeal to their political base, they have alienated people like me, who were never interested in politics until they offered a breath of fresh air. Now that fresh air has been polluted with the acid rain of disdain and rancor with which both of these candidates are treating one another.
I wish they would call off the dogs and run on their own merits – like they did a few months ago – and allow both people to arrive at November 4 with their dignity, honor, and pride fully intact.