by Marion Marks
“I think we too often make choices based on the safety of cynicism, and what we’re led to is a life not fully lived. Cynicism is fear and it’s worse than fear – it’s active disengagement.” Ken Burns
The “Winners” of the Republican beauty contest this week appear to be those best able to make cynical addresses about anything President Obama, the Democratic Party or “Big Government” stands for related to social justice. Beauty contestants should be so lucky, as they must generally sway judges on far less objective standards. The greatest slight, the biggest laugh or the most absurd comments seem to nudge the polls and may determine the top ten contestants in the next round of presidential musical chairs.
Donald Trump may the the greatest influence the electoral process has seen in years if he changes the tone of discussion toward real problem solving, however the tone today seems to be geared toward cynical disengagement to protect turf. Trump could be seen as the explosive that sparks discussion, but if constructive dialogue does not follow, the Republican party continues to self destruct.
Poll winners in the early rounds appear to be those least likely to be prepared or have capacity for government leadership. Rather they appear to be entertainers or comedians. The needle of popularity is again nudged by the ability to garner a laugh or engender a snicker at the expense of any form of decorum.
Time keepers, referees or bouncers need to be on hand to herd unruly contestants. The role of Ringleader would be the Barnum & Bailey type like Giraldo Rivera or perhaps a Monty Python. The infamous “Hook” needs to be available to pull the uncooperative participants from the stage when they refuse to follow rules of conduct.
A real “Wrangler” of the Republican event must be able to muzzles or blow a loud horn to quash the defiant Trump(et)-like behavior we have observed in some interviews “The Donald” and others have displayed. The worst part for the general public is the extremely low expectations we have created; the worse the agitating sounds that erupt when the contestants speak.
In every step in of this election cycle candidates have a choice of taking either a positive or negative direction in addressing voters. As participants in the election process candidates have the opportunity to influence our destiny and our reality. Yet we find the circus atmosphere seems to be the course of least resistance for candidates, the press and voter engagement because of their constant need to create headlines.
Voters and the press must demand candidates get off the “auto-pilot” mode of thinking and that we have little choice in determining the next set of leaders. Our circumstances are that we want and appreciate clown antics. What we do to encourage candidates is our choice.
Through our choice of words we respond and invest personal time and resources building our community around ideas and actions. We can change the world around us, and eventually we might make a difference in our community and our destiny.
This applies to Caddo parish and Louisiana citizens as well. We have a knack for encouraging potentially good decision makers to become our leaders, but we permit too many “power brokers” to work behind the scenes and influence decisions for personal benefits. For all the wrong reasons we encourage our leaders to shy away from an active role in solving problems and to become disengaged, because cynicism gets a better reaction in the press.
Elected officials must use resources to address root problems in crime, poverty, education, or healthcare. We see too many leaders posturing for the cameras rather than engaging in constructive problem solving. We build walls around our institutions to protect those in power rather than sun setting failed programs. So, I believe we need to find the good that may exist in the Donald Trump campaign, he requires us to think about elections in a creative manner. He may be “blowing things up in the Republican Party,” but he is also shaking some foundations that need to let in new ideas.
The races locally and nationally are all in the early stages, but we can learn something from what we observe in the words and actions of Trump. It starts with change that can be seen as a positive in all governmental elections, if we look for what can be constructive. But as long as we just “get along to get along” we will passively allow others to control us. Voters must get involved in the process and grasp opportunities to make a difference.