I just finished exercising my political rights by voting against all the candidates so far from my own political views that I had no choice but to vote for their opposition. Looking back on my experience, I realize every vote I made was for the lessor evil. I did my research but with all the negative political ads, there was not a single candidate I felt I could say I voted for without cringing. How did we come to this sad state?

I’m not alone in this opinion, the politicians themselves have already accepted the truth of this. Listen to any of the political ads inundating your personal space. It may be different in other states but the Texas politicians have already recognized that it’s easier to get us to vote against their opponent than to persuade us to vote for them. The first words out of their mouth are to establish what a low life scum sucking jellyfish their opponent is.

Some of the more progressive ones might devote the last 20 seconds of their ad to telling you what their position is but they know your political filters have already gone up. Listening to the negative political ads you wonder why they’re all not in jail.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work for some great leaders. While there are numerous definitions of great leaders, I like to keep it simple. A great leader is someone who inspires people to become their best, tells the truth even when nobody wants to hear it, has a goal and a plan to achieve that goal, is not afraid to acknowledge someone else has a better plan and finally provides an example for all of us.

Try this template against any of the politicians you know. Maybe you’re lucky but I don’t know a single one that comes close.

In our recent presidential debate, I never heard a complete answer. When asked about their plan for dealing with Covid, both politicians spent the majority of their time discussing history, what their opponent did wrong, what they did right, how many people died, how many people watched their businesses and life savings go down the drain, and finally how they could do better. Certainly nothing I would consider a plan.

These were more like political chatbots than leaders. The script would be easy, parse the question for topics trending on Google, do a search on the failings of the opposition, modify with emotionally charged words, regard truth as more or less a guideline and then repeat the question back as an affirmative. Talk about a script for Alexa.

We all know it’s easier to criticize than to do. Certainly, being a critic doesn’t mean you’re good at your subject. A food critic isn’t expected to be a good chef. Their role is to give us insight into what the chef produces before we order our meal. If we chose our chefs like we do our leaders we would end up with a bunch of food critics preparing our meals. Which, rather amazingly, describes our current situation, politicians instead of leaders.

Fortunately, as I start to delve into the pressures that mold our politicians into the tofu of the human race, most of you have already stopped reading. That’s important because many of you won’t like what comes next, you see I believe all these negative political ads are our fault.

For a growing multitude, if my views don’t mirror your own, you believe I should be ostracized, or in today’s vernacular, canceled. It’s sort of like a homeowners association of humanity. There’s no room for someone not willing to conform. Say the wrong thing, do something in poor taste, have a momentary lapse of judgement and it’s obvious that your home should be burned to the ground and you tarred and feathered. We like to think we’ve come a long way since lynch mobs but take a look at all the people whose careers have been ruined by a single misspoken word.

As a politician, it’s far safer to point out that your opponent crawled out from under a rock, intends to raise your taxes and wants to prohibit all contact sports (worse than being devil spawn in Texas). Having said that, your audience will naturally think you’re against all those evils (not necessarily true) and that you’re a shining paragon of all other virtues.

We’ve even invented terms to describe this, “politically correct,” so absolutely devoid of meaning as not to offend anyone. It’s no wonder our politicians are limited to attacking their opponent. Saying anything else is sure to offend someone that might vote for them.

While I’m on the subject, when did we become so thin skinned as a nation? I fully understand being offended. I also understand that being offended doesn’t give me license to make death threats nor does it mean the person offending is unworthy of being considered a human. I’ve been offended by some very intelligent people. Fortunately, I was able to overcome my indignation enough to listen to the good ideas of these people.

Just because someone’s opinion differs from your own, it doesn’t mean they are totally ignorant on all subjects. In fact, if you’re tolerant enough to actually listen, you could learn something. You might even be able to engage in a meaningful conversation with them.

As a loyal Monty Python fan, I always enjoyed the frequent unexpected appearances of the Spanish Inquisition. The reality behind that entity was far from funny and yet strangely reminiscent of the times we’re living in.

© 2020, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.

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