21st Century Politics: The Erosion of Dignity and Decency

Navigating the Troubled Waters of the Presidential Election
Election Fight

There are a few concepts that seem to have gone out of fashion in the 21st century. Among them are dignity, decency, decorum, appropriateness and civility. Some people have no regard for the difference between public and private arenas, even in the most public of circumstances. One would expect that the gravitas of being a candidate for the highest office in the country or a delegate to the convention to nominate such a candidate would preclude some of the behavior we have witnessed.

I thought I had seen rock bottom during the Presidential debates. Shameful behavior earmarked every debate, causing many people to turn off their televisions or lose interest in what little substance there was. In previous years, politicians cleverly insulted one another diplomatically by calling someone “the distinguished congressman from…” Everyone understood that the speaker meant anything but that, and the debate continued in a dignified way. Now, if the insult fails to hit below the belt, the candidate probably feels that he or she has failed to make the point.

Throughout the primary season, the candidates of both parties have cited the anger felt by many Americans – about everything from the frustration with the less-than-stellar economy to the fear of terrorism to the dismay over the lack of opportunity experienced by some segments of the population.  The question is how the next President is going to channel that anger into action or provide leadership that dissipates the anger with effective programs.

The scripting of the conventions was supposed to change the perceptions of the candidates to some degree as members of the candidates’ families tried to paint verbal pictures of a kinder, gentler Donald and Hillary. Still, aided and abetted by the media, the Republican and Democratic conventions gave Americans a look at a different view of the events – one of disunity, dissent and distractions. In both cases, things seemed to coalesce at the end, but there are still unhappy campers.

Somebody is going to get elected, and there is a lot at stake.  While it is always easy to cite the flaws in the candidates, we have to be diligent enough to dig deeper to make sure the choice we make is the best one for America, Israel and a world view compatible with our values.

During the coming months, Kosher OC will be exploring the real issues of this election and sharing the opinions of representatives of both parties. It is likely to be a wild ride, so stay tuned.

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