I’m proud and deeply grateful to live in a democracy. It’s a privilege and most times a pleasure. That is, until political season. Then it’s a hideous slog through vitriol flung from all sides until election day.
I don’t listen to talk radio (I don’t count NPR as talk radio), I don’t watch national news channels, and until this month, I didn’t watch much TV where political ads were prominent. Thus I was happily oblivious to the ugliness.
My dad is here for a couple weeks, which means my TV watching habits have changed dramatically. From being in the vicinity of endless hunting shows, now I’m watching the major networks, including local evening news. The good (?) news is that now I’m hooked on all the Chicago series (Chicago PD, Fire, Med) and This Is Us. The bad news is that I cannot believe the slander that both sides are dishing up in the form of TV ads relentlessly placed in between these shows.
I know I’ve talked about how important civility is in conversation but wow, have you ever heard of one hand clapping? That’s how it feels right now. No one is immune, it seems, from denigrating their opponent, whether they’re across the aisle or across the state.
Back in the good old days, when I worked for Sen. Craig Thomas’ campaign, I fondly remember that we hammered on Craig’s differences from his opponents, not his opponent’s Satan-like tendencies. I may be exaggerating just a tad but honestly, I am shocked by the horrible accusations thrown around on TV commercials. And why should there be any proof provided? It’s all sound bytes, creatively edited footage and bold statements. No need to dig any further. Clearly, the facts are obvious.
The refreshing news is that I’ve seen very little of this heinous behavior on the part of our local candidates. They seem quite civil and, dare I say, complimentary of their opponents. A recent candidate forum of the Sheridan County commissioner candidates illustrated that point. They joked that they could recite each other’s speeches from memory and focused on their own strengths and qualifications, instead of attacking each other.
Having tough conversations that are positive and constructive is a huge goal of the CVC. We want civility to be the default in our community when it comes to the hard stuff. Unfortunately, when we’re bombarded by television and social media campaigns that attack, malign, ignore and divide, sometimes it feels like we’re paddling against the current. Oh yeah, and we’ve got no paddle. But are we giving up? I think not.
Join us for Community Conversations when we discuss affordable housing in Sheridan County. Civility will reign and stories and experiences will be welcome. Nov. 15 and 17, we’ll be diving into the subject of affordable housing. I can promise you that it will be civil and constructive.
Those are words that would never apply to this season’s political fray on TV. But this is how we roll in Sheridan County. And just to let you know, This Is Us should be sponsored by Kleenex. So much sniffling, so little time.
Amy Albrecht is the executive director of the Center for a Vital Community.