There were four political robo-call voice mails to erase on Saturday. I deleted four more on Sunday. The voices were rehearsed and the words uninspired. Never could understand why campaigns pay for these nuisances and couldn’t imagine a voter listening to one, until I’d seen some of the snide and vicious barbs people write to each other about candidates and public policy on Facebook and Twitter. The person-to-person remarks make the negative TV and radio ads look like Sesame Street, with Big Bird debating Elmo.
And when the smoke clears and the dust settles on Wednesday, what we’ll have left is a very divided country. But what’s new? That’s America from the beginning. Acrimonious and apathetic until the stuff hits the fan, or the tea hits the water. Took years to pass the Constitution. Dixie seceded and more than 750,000 died before the emancipation of slaves and the end to the Civil War. Had a century of segregation before civil rights. Had more than two years of the Nazi blitzkrieg and the bombing of Pearl Harbor before the self-proclaimed greatest generation stepped up to battle the axis powers. A few hundred thousand Americans served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and we ran up a trillion dollar tab before the second Iraqi war ended, with hardly a peep or a protest from average citizens.
We’ve had assassinations and many attempts during political campaigns and a history of voter suppression. Look how long it took for women to vote. But at no time in U.S. history have we ever had the billions spent on a presidential election that were poured into this one. Will we ever know how much was really spent? Constitutionally, corporations are now considered people. The question is: how will the people cooperate beginning Wednesday morning, November 7, 2012?
As much as Americans complain about negative campaigning, our politics and our politicians are a reflection of our own intellectual character and the quality of the debate we demand. How well do we know the issues? Are we content to indulge our ignorance and volley uninformed platitudes until the next congressional election? The problems that face us are unparalleled in a global marketplace.
Do we have the courage to face them, the integrity to solve them and the ingenuity to transcend them?
Destiny is calling. And if we don’t respond, it won’t leave a message.