2008 Election: Seeking Reason Amidst The Rhetoric genre: Polispeak

YesWeCan.jpg

For the most part, I've been in a funk since the Democratic National Convention. The question I've been unable to answer is why. Even as I write this posting, I remain unsure of the cause of my malaise. Regardless, it seemed appropriate to attempt an explanation...for myself and my readers.

As the convention closed on Thursday, I found myself inspired by the words of Barack Obama...but I also found myself even more cynical about the political process and the motivations of its participants. At one level, it seems appropriate to confine my criticism to the political sphere. At another level, I see no way to distinguish my discouragement with the political process from my ever increasing doubts about our discordant identities.

I've long argued that we've become a society of individuals who live in two parallel perceptions. On the one hand, we adopt the inane belief that our nation can be reduced to the rhetoric of right versus left, good versus evil, liberal versus conservative. On the other hand, our day to day realities are frequently devoid of the dynamics that define these distinctions. In other words, the rampant rhetoric is rarely relevant to our actual reality...and yet rhetoric rises while reality recedes.

In many ways, we've reduced our lives to a list of focus group tested talking points...pretending that our propensity for partisanship is a direct extension of our daily experiences...when it is actually little more than a lamentable lesson in the limitations of latching oneself to the self-deception that accompanies our lip service lives.

While the discourse of our democracy is so eloquently defined as an affirmation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, an abundance of our actions abrogate this idyllic ideation in favor of inconsistent and inconsequential ideologies. Unfortunately, when the veils of our compartmental caricatures are pulled back, the view reveals a virtual vacuity. In the end, our allegiance is to intransigence...which is ironically matched by our unexplored rejection of the merits of vicissitude.

Should there be any doubt as to the degree to which we ascribe to unenlightened utterances in the pursuit of political power...and therefore mindlessly attach our personal worth to well-crafted words of suspect substance...one need look no further than the proclamations of John McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis. Davis, in attempting to define the 2008 election, offered, "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

In other words, that which is unstated has now eclipsed that which can be deduced or discovered. Politics is no longer an exercise in objective observation but an unmitigated effort to nurture nuance in order to foster nascent innuendo. Such is the logical progression of a decision to divorce oneself from reality in favor of parlance and platitudes.

That brings me to the brouhaha about the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, the daughter of John McCain's vice presidential selection, Sarah Palin. Rightly so, the Obama campaign has cautioned that the personal lives of the children of candidates should have no place in the political arena. However, there is both a need and a purpose in seeking to distinguish essence from expression...and therefore find that which unites us as Americans...and more importantly...as human beings engaged in the human experience.

All too often, the victims of our seemingly inviolable values are those innocents who are forced to reconcile our calculated manipulations of morality with their own advancing awareness of the unrelenting complexity of the human condition. What distinguishes the pregnant daughter of the conservative Christian from the pregnant daughter of the non-spiritual secularist? Does not the incontrovertible impact of the pregnancy exceed the exhortations of the underlying ideologies? Are not these daughters equal in their human frailty and therefore indistinguishable in their moral fitness?

As such, are our efforts to identify ourselves as distant and distinct points on a contrived continuum not merely the means by which we seek to stratify and separate us, one from the other? Does our need to define one doctrine superior to the other in any way alter the inevitable difficulty that will accompany an unanticipated pregnancy? That pregnancy need not be a moral disqualification.

The Palin's undoubtedly see great worth in their daughter...just as they and all parents should see the worth in all daughters...whether they adhere to similar or dissimilar value systems. At what point will we decide that our fragile human similarities exceed our need to exaggerate our dogmatic differences in the pursuit of political power?

At what point will we cease our efforts to evaluate the wherewithal and worthiness of our political opponents by tabulating how many of their cohorts have succumbed to the human condition? In this attempt to establish relevant value and measurable morality, we divorce ourselves from each other and therefore our shared humanity.

This years election, like so many before, has seen the emergence of two competing slogans. On the one hand, John McCain presents himself as the "Straight Talk Express". On the other, Barack Obama, when speaking of change, tells us, "Yes We Can". Regardless, unless and until we unite our unexamined external personae with our shared...though often suppressed...internal and innately human identities, our politics will be about a distinction without a difference.

Bristol Palin is every American's daughter. This election and all others ought to be about the promises we make to her and and the children her generation will raise. The difficulties she and her family will face are not unique to Republicans or Democrats...Christians or secularists. Neither party and neither ideology has a monopoly on morality. Those who assert as much do so as a matter of political expediency.

If we care about our future, we'll begin the process of admitting as much. If we don't, I expect that each future election will seem increasingly disconnected and disconcerting. I for one have had enough.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, Bristol Palin, John McCain, Religion, Sarah Palin, Teen Pregnancy, Values

Daniel DiRito | September 2, 2008 | 5:14 PM
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» 2008 Election: Seeking Reason Amidst The Rhetoric from www.buzzflash.net
U.S. elections are increasingly examples of the disconnect between the ideologies we espouse and the lives we live. If we are to succeed, we must move beyond the rhetoric of division and begin to embrace the one thing we share…the imperfections of the ... [Read More]

Tracked on September 2, 2008 9:54 PM


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