As per usual, I read a story this morning that made me lose a bit of faith in humanity. It should come as no surprise that a PAC would stoop to a level only reserved for the most base and unwholesome. However, this takes the proverbial cake. To summarize; a liberal PAC here in CT took out an ad (which has been removed) on William Petit and other CT Republicans for the misgivings of Donald Trump. Namely; Trump’s derogotory comments about women. What the PAC failed to foresee as an issue with this ad, was the fact that Petit’s wife and two daughters were brutally murdered in a home invasion in 2007.
To suggest that someone doesn’t respect women simply because they are part of the same political party as someone else, would be tantamount to calling all Germans antisemitic. The idea that a man, whose wife and daughters were murdered, doesn’t respect women because of his political allegiance is beyond the pale. This is why I am finding it harder and harder to care. The level to which human beings are willing to degrade themselves in order to press their ideologies is downright depressing. The PAC pulled the ad after heavy pressure from both CT Republicans and Democrats. Regardless of pulling the ad, It doesn’t change the fact that it was created in the first place.
Politics are important for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason being that it reminds us of who we are. Or more to the point, what we can become when reason and integrity take a back seat to ambition and sensationalism. The human spirit is an odd thing. It is the driving force behind every single instance of individual and collective good throughout human history, yet it is so malleable and easy to manipulate. Once a person or group has decided that their politics or worldview is superior to others, any number of indignities are given the chance to crop up. This is not to say that competing ideologies or philosophies are all the same or worth the same. What ideology does brilliantly however, is engage a human being to the point where the individual follower is caught up in a world where cause is greater than self and the two are no longer seperately recognizable. There is nothing inherently wrong with seeing a cause or purpose as more important than oneself. It only becomes a problem when the cause destroys any semblance of the individual’s principles which fueled their zeal at the start. It is not uncommon to meet people who describe their politics before they mention the true pillars of their character; religion, family, charitable work, hobbies etc. We don’t want others to understand us as much as we want them to understand our place in group-think. Human beings have no better outlet to display their natural tribalism than the realm of politics.
We have no one to blame but ourselves. It is easy to insist that the current election season is the worst in American history. Every generation likes to puff itself up. However, the current election and the mudslinging from both sides is a fraction of the horrors found in previous elections. Politics fueling divisive hatred is nothing new and it is certainly not native to the United States. When we feel the creeping sense of disgust rising up in ourselves after learning of attack ads like the one William Petit is attempting to put behind him; what should we do? The obvious answer would be to turn our backs on the more sensationalist pundits and talking heads. But we don’t. As much as we groan about this election and the candidates, anyone who is even remotely political or interested in politics would have to admit that this season has at least been interesting. If not even fun at certain times. So we carefully form our opinions and hone our rage only after we read what our favorite jounralists have to say about it. It seems to me, that when we beat our chests in our own righteous indignation we ought to hit a little harder. We should punish ourselves for the atrocity of out of control political ideology in this country and the narratives and vitriol it creates. It is our fault.
The next time you read or see something you find abhorrent remember this; They wouldn’t create or publish it, if people didn’t want to see it. Whether or not you personally do, is immaterial to the larger machinery. To clarify; I didn’t mean to suggest with the title of this post that it is getting harder to care about politics. It is getting harder to care about people. We are always looking for reasons to put our voices out there. Politics are simply the means by which we advance our social philosophies and our voices. Even if they are adopted. Therefore, it is not politics that is to blame for the complete breakdown of anything even remotely akin to propriety or honesty. It is us. So while it is ghoulish to see attack ads claiming that a man who lost his family composed of women is ‘anti-woman’ let’s not pretend that it didn’t give us something to talk or write about.