Reclaiming Citizenship

This presidential election campaign, as those in the past, is between two political parties, but this one seems to have something those in the past did not, acrimony, so much acrimony it is difficult to think of both parties as belonging to the same country. The campaigns have come to sound as if the two parties are enemies, as if it is more like a war than a political contest. Yes, each side represents radically different values, but ought it not to be possible to present varying visions without framing the choice as one between good and bad guys, between good and evil? I wonder if this sentiment doesn’t come from the top, perhaps not from the candidates themselves but more accurately from those working the campaigns, the mass of invisible brains called the handlers as well as from their desire to please the religious fervor of some. I wonder too if it is not related to the way campaigns are now waged, catering to the 24-hour news cycle, with polls, consultants and an army of talking heads dissecting every aspect of events and speeches whether or not what they say has value, adds understanding, deepens our divisions, maybe because of long held notions that conflict brings better ratings and arguments add interest. Campaigns no longer are an exercise in citizenship, enlightening listeners and viewers about the positions of the candidates or the issues of the election. Now, positions and issues are given lip service, it’s who’s ahead, who’s lost, which side got the better of the other, its’ suppositions and conjecture, opinions and of course an endless rehashing of whatever knee-jerking reactions they and others have said somewhere else. There has to be a better way, and the quicker we find it the quicker we can reclaim being citizens of one country.