I confess. I am a news junky. I believe in being well-informed. I believe in being engaged in the world. The stakes have never been higher. The alternative, to hide my head in the proverbial sand, just focus on myself and my family, while ignoring everything and everyone else is simply not acceptable.
I have noticed an interesting phenomenon in the run-up to and now the beginning of the primary season. While candidates are polling in single digits they receive little to no attention. But as soon as they serge, the spotlight burns brightly, pretty much day and night. That, in and of itself, is no surprise; it comes with the territory of being a public figure. I know; been there, done that. What is surprising however, even disturbing, is the seemingly incessant desire to dig up and regurgitate any negatives, mistakes, bad decisions, poor judgment, or flaws from any decade of a candidate’s life, and repeat it ad nauseam. And even if that candidate takes full responsibility and admits to the error they made back then, there is no let-up. This is not “fake news.” Rather, it is “fractional news”, emphasizing a true but small piece of a person’s life and/or career while ignoring the full picture, all the while making it look like what they are focusing on is everything.
Those of you who have read anything I have written know that I am a lifelong, committed Democrat. That is my admitted bias. I was brought up with the understanding that we Jews never forget our humblest of beginnings; that we fight for the underdog and the have nots; that we have a moral obligation to do our share to make the world a better place for all people; that we vote Democrat and root for the Brooklyn Dodgers! That said, I would be willing to put ALL the negatives of ALL the Democratic candidates for President on one side of a scale and bet they would weigh less than those of our current President who has spent a lifetime both breaking and skirting the law while “screwing” the “little guy” any chance he gets.
Negative news might sell better than positive—the old “man bites dog” reasoning. And that might very well be the motivation of the media—higher ratings and revenue. However, the current obsession with finding and harping on the flaws of the front runners, I believe, is deeply rooted in some abstract notion of perfection. News flash! There is no perfection in this world, no perfect human being, no perfect candidate. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, take responsibility for them, and attempt to do better the next time. That’s as good as it gets in life. What seems like a good idea may, hindsight, turn out to be not so good. It happens. Perhaps we did not have accurate information. Perhaps we had a blind spot. Perhaps we needed to act in a moment of crisis and did not have the time to ponder our options. This is real life.
Hindsight, on the other hand, is always 20-20. Monday morning quarterbacks make all the right decisions. Duh! Up there is the broadcast booth, looking down on all of us doing our best to play the game, is a slam dunk task. I do my best to openly listen to and, indeed, have learned valuable lessons from all my critics. But in all honesty, their job is a lot easier. Always is.
I once heard a quote that goes something like this, “The pursuit of perfection diminishes good.” Whoever said it got that right. We keep vainly looking for the perfect anything and all the goodness we can bring to this world will dissipate and disappear. As I was sitting down to write this piece I was shown a cartoon. A boat is sinking and the captain tells all those aboard to get into the life raft. The passengers then start to critique the raft—they don’t like the color, it looks uncomfortable, are there any other options, etc. The captain exhorts them to no avail as the boat goes down. In the final box the passengers, now in the water, blame the captain for not giving them “good enough raft!” Sound familiar?
My friends, it is time to pick a candidate, embrace them with all their flaws, look at and focus on ALL the good they have accomplished, and work to get them elected. Even with a narrowed field, there are several good choices. And when they all lose except for one, we need to unite, forget about the others, and make sure whoever it is beats Donald Trump. The stakes could not be higher. The very future of our democracy is at stake.