03 November 2008

One Day Before the Vote

Many folks, it seems, are worried about what will happen on Tuesday night or in the early hours of Wednesday morning. There are some who say that either an Obama win or loss will incite riots. There are some who say that McCain supporters will cling even more adamantly to their guns and their God if he loses. There are many, many who see this election as one which has strained the fabric of our nation. They would be right.

The cause of this, I think, is our hyper-media, fueled with hundreds of millions of political dollars (far more than necessary or prudent), looking for divisive (and thus decisive?) information with which to contrast candidates. Not that much of these things have to do with the character or content of the candidates, but it sure does make for “breaking news” – in boldface, flashing fonts.

Hyper-media has raised hyper-partisanship to new levels. It doesn’t help that hyper-race-sensitivity has come into play. Just to demonstrate how much one candidate’s race matters in this contest, it has managed to nearly eclipse any positive spin with regard to the gender of not one, but two candidates.

(A telling point, then, is the absence of warnings – both past and present – when Sen. Clinton was and if Gov. Palin should be defeated. No riots were or are predicted; no sexism accused, or virtually none.)

And so, the hyper-this and hyper-that seem to have accelerated some sort of cultural-political continental drift where conservative and liberal plates move further away from each other, leaving a void in the middle.
But I can’t help but think that perhaps this is somewhat of an illusion created by media and political magicians. Someone once said that if a lie is told often enough and with enough force, it can become the truth. If Americans are told often enough, with enough conviction and supposed authority, that there are serious divisions in the country, then it can become the truth. Razor close presidential elections seem to have reinforced the supposed truth of division. But I wonder if our hyper-media were toned down 80% if we wouldn’t have a more civil society and more civil – and less dollar-driven – political body.

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